A South Kor-ean joint venture in energy-rich Uzbekistan said yesterday it had secured a $2.5 billion credit line to build a new chemical and gas production unit by 2016. The Uz-Kor Gas Chemical company was formed by the Korea Gas Corporation (Kogas) giant and the Central Asian state\'s Uzbekneftegas oil and gas company in 2008 amid surging Asia interest in the region\'s vast reserves. The deal will help the venture launch construction of a plant in northwest Uzbekistan called Ustyurt that hopes to produce four billion cubic metres of gas per year — about a third of the country\'s current annual export volume. It also hopes to manufacture about 500,000 tonnes per year of plastics as well as 100,000 tonnes of petrol which is derived as a bi-product in the process. Uzbekistan\'s First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov said the project highlights the ex-Soviet nation\'s desire to switch its focus from raw material exports to the production of commodities with added value. \"Several similar projects are being prepared in Uzbekistan,\" he said at the signing ceremony. The venture said the line came from Asian and Eur-opean credit institutions but provided no immediate details.