Russia discussing 'gas union' with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan - deputy PM

(Reuters) -Russia is discussing a possible "gas union" with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to support shipments between the three countries and to other energy buyers, including China, senior Russian officials said on Tuesday.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who mentioned shipments to China, provided no details of the plan.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the details of the agreement were yet to be discussed, but the key idea was coordinating supply plans.

He cited the example of northern Kazakhstan which imports gas from Russia and where the Astana government is considering building a pipeline to provide the region with Kazakh gas.

Russia, at the same time, is increasing production in nearby eastern Siberia, he said, hinting that Kazakhstan could avoid spending "tens of billions of dollars" on pipelines by committing to Russian imports.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's spokesman said on Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed such an idea in a meeting with Tokayev on Monday. He provided no details.

While Russia is a major natural gas exporter, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan produce roughly as much as they consume. The two countries are connected by a gas pipeline to Russia, and a separate pipeline crosses both on its way to China.

However, both pipelines mostly pump gas from Turkmenistan, while Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have never reported any transit shipments of Russian gas to China or any other countries.

Russia, hit by Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine and the outage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, is keen to boost sales of its energy and commodities in Asia.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)