The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, expressed his eagerness today to boost gas exports in cooperation with Russia. A number of major Russian energy companies, including SUEK and Inter RAO, have signed Market Council agreements that offer them a guaranteed rate of return on the energy they produce at new plants for the next decade, in exchange for their commitment to invest in fossil fuels. Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko says Transneft will not be part of the government’s privatization plans in the next five years. TNK-BP announced that it had secured a $2 billion loan from a group of international banks that will give it ‘flexibility to manage our future growth opportunities‘. Rising demand will spur China to triple the current length of its natural gas pipelines over the next five years.