in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat last week to seek approval for Gazprom to buy up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The deal, which would free up Russian gas for export to Western markets, is hung up over price and payment terms. Gazprom is offering $36 per 1,000 cubic meters, with 70% of the payment to be bartered goods and services. Turkmenistan is holding out for $42, cash money. The Russians apparently believe the lack of pipelines to take Turkmen gas to alternate markets gives them the upper hand. Turkmenistan’s much-heralded pipeline to Iran that opened in December has an annual capacity of only 10 billion cubic meters.