There is some talk in the market about China signing a natural gas import deal with Russia ahead of a state visit is giving Gazprom shares a bump. Everyone has figured for awhile now that Gazprom ( OGZPY , quote ) would need start selling some of its prodigious gas output to China in the near future. But even though it is news that the market has been expecting -- and technically is still expecting -- for some time now, it is driving the stock up 5% today: The time frame is now getting tight. Some Beijing officials have promised a "major agreement on natural gas" before President Hu Jintao visits Moscow. However, Hu will be in Russia next Wednesday, so that does not leave a lot of time. At stake is around 68 billion cubic meters -- 2.4 trillion cubic feet -- of gas moving toward China instead of Europe every year. This would meet most (about 75%) of China's increasingly gas-oriented energy needs without forcing it to continue aggressively hunting for new and expensive sources of gas to develop and process on its own. Significantly, OGZPY shares are up a lot today. More western-focused benchmarks of gas prices like the ETF UNG ( quote ) are sagging along with oil prices:
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