Japanese steel firms offer pipe for Soviet gas line

Four major Japanese steel companies have offered to sell 3.5 million tons of large steel pipe to the Soviet Union for its project to supply Western Europe with Siberian gas, Nippon Steel Corporation said. Moscow did not respond to the offer immediately.

Any agreement would depend on price negotiations and a loan from Japan's semiofficial Export-Import Bank to help finance the multibillion-dollar project, a Nippon spokesman said. Japanese trade sources have said the Soviet Union wanted to buy from Japan 5 million tons of large steel pipe for the transmission line and 2.6 million tons of pipe for wells, besides other equipment. But Moscow would divert the whole order to WEst Europe unless Japan offered a l oan.

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