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The Associated Press May 31, 2010, 9:40AM ET

Turkmenistan starts new gas pipeline to West

Turkmenistan has launched work on a new gas pipeline that will connect the hydrocarbon-rich Central Asian country with western markets and decrease its reliance on Russia's delivery network.

The pipeline -- dubbed East-West -- will stretch 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the Southern Yolotan-Osman field near Afghanistan and carry up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to the Caspian Sea.

President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov said Monday that the $2 billion pipeline will give both economic and political clout to the country and help secure global energy security after its scheduled completion in 2015.

The new Turkmen pipeline could become a crucial move in Europe's drive to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

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