Gazprom to supply fuel to U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan

Azerbaijan , Baku, Sept. 27 /Trend/

Kyrgyzstan and Russian gas giant Gazprom will supply up to 50 percent of the jet fuel to be used at a U.S. air base in the Central Asian state, a key transit route to NATO forces in Afghanistan, a U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The base, located in Kyrgyzstan's main civilian airport outside the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, is officially known as the Manas Transit Center and is a vital point for cargo supplies to the U.S.-led war against the Taliban.

The new government in Kyrgyzstan, which also hosts a Russian military air base, has pledged to remove what it saw as murky and corrupt fuel supply schemes to Manas, saying they mainly favoured the clan of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Bakiyev, deposed in a bloody revolt in April last year, lives in exile in Belarus.

A contract on the fuel supplies was signed on Monday between the Defense Logistics Agency of the United States and joint venture Gazpromneft Aero-Kyrgyzstan, Pamela Spratlen, U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, told reporters.

"In a few days an order for 20 percent of the transit center's fuel requirement will be placed by the Defense Logistics Agency with Gazpromneft Aero-Kyrgyzstan," the diplomat said.

Gazpromneft Aero, the aviation fuelling subsidiary of Gazprom, owns 51 percent of the joint venture and the Kyrgyz state-run Manas Refuelling Complex has 49 percent.

"The Defense Logistics Agency expects the fuel to begin arriving at the transit center in 45 days from the date the order is placed."

Spratlen said that within 90 days of the initial shipment of fuel, a contract could be signed to supply up to 50 percent of the fuel needs of the base.

The rest of the fuel will be supplied until the end of this year by Mina Corp., a Gibraltar-based company awarded a contract by the United States last November. The company has repeatedly denied any links to Bakiyev, under whose rule it supplied the base.

The U.S. base is estimated to consume between 360,000 and 400,000 tonnes of jet fuel a year worth $300 million to $400 million.

Edited by V. Zhavoronkova

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