Turkmenistan resumes gas deliveries to Russia

MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan resumed gas supplies to Russia on Saturday after a break of nine months, Russian state gas firm Gazprom said, ending a dispute that prompted Ashgabat to develop new markets in China and Iran.

Turkmenistan, long dependent on Russian gas purchases, accused Moscow in April of suspending gas imports at a time when demand for gas nosedived in Europe, and stepped up diplomacy to clinch alternative gas export routes elsewhere.

Gazprom GAZP.MM initially blamed an explosion on a key pipeline for the halt, but later said Ashgabat should understand that it cannot sell the same volumes when demand in Europe is falling.

Turkmenistan in December agreed on a long-term deal to restart supplies to Russia of up to 30 billion cubic metres, less than half the volumes agreed in deals before the dispute. [ID:nLDE5BL0BX]

“Gazprom resumed the import of Turkmen gas at 10:35 a.m. Moscow time today,” 0735 GMT, the Gazprom spokesman told Reuters.

The suspension encouraged Turkmenistan, holder of the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, to open a new gas pipeline to China last month [ID:nLDE5BD0F2] and one to Iran earlier this week [ID:nLDE6050D8]. (Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Andy Bruce)