Putin specifies main problem of coal industry

Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that the main problem ofdevelopment of the coal industry in Russia is "the misbalance of pricepolicy on gas and coal, the two main kinds of fuel". The head of statevoiced this statement at a meeting of the State Council, which is held atthe city of Mezhdurechensk. The session is headed by the Russian Presidentand it is devoted to problems of the coal industry. The President stressedthat currently coal prices were much lower than gas prices on the domesticmarket. However, this is not a typical situation for Europe; "cheap gas isa temporary thing and a leveling of world and domestic prices will happeninevitably", Putin thinks. He noted that the leveling of gas and coalprices could not and should not occur quickly.The head of state pointed to the problem of fuel prices for householdconsumers. These prices should remain on a low level. Nevertheless, theissue of leveling prices should be considered, he added.The President also admitted that the volume of gas reserves was much lowerthan the volume of coal reserves. That is why the use of coal is aguarantee of the energy stability. "It is necessary to thoroughly analyze,estimate potential consumption, foreign and domestic, and take these factsinto account when elaborating on new basics of Russia's energy strategy",the Russian President declared. He mentioned that this work should becompleted by November 2002, the RTR television reported..