Gazprom will import 500 million cubic metres of Azeri gas from 2010
Russian gas giant Gazprom has signed a deal to import natural gas from Azerbaijan and then pipe it to Europe.
Gazprom will import 500 million cubic metres of Azeri gas from 2010, and it expects import levels to rise.
The move is being seen by observers as an attempt by Moscow to extend its grip on potential European energy supplies.
Europe gets about 20% of its gas from Russia via pipelines in the Ukraine - though last winter rows between Kiev and Moscow saw supplies being cut.
Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said that his firm had also been promised priority in buying gas from the second phase of the Shakh Deniz Caspian Sea field.
This is seen as a potential key source of gas for the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline, which circumvents Russia.