Azerbaijan to Stop Importing Russian Gas

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Azerbaijan will stop importing Russian gas beginning January, a top Azeri energy official said Tuesday, after Moscow asked for more than double its previous price.

"Imports of Russian gas to Azerbaijan will be halted as of Jan. 1," said Alikhan Melikhov, president of gas company Azerigaz.

The move would result in a deficit of 4 billion to 4.5 billion cubic meters. "This is a very big volume," he said, adding that Azerbaijan would need to introduce a system to decrease gas consumption.

Earlier Russia said it would slash the amount of gas it sends the former Soviet republic next year to 1.5 billion cubic meters, and would charge more than twice as much for it -- US$230 (euro173) per 1,000 cubic meters.

While Russia's energy monopoly Gazprom asserts that Azerbaijan has enough in its own reserves to cover domestic needs, the move has angered Azeri officials.

The cut has thrown further attention on Gazprom's own ability to satisfy rising domestic and overseas demand.

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