Serene skies for Gazprom?

On Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin had a working meeting with Alexei Miller, chief of Russia's leading gas company Gazprom.

This year Gazprom has stabilised the gas extraction and plans to produce 10 billion cubic meters of gas more than last year. In 2002 Gazprom produced 535 billion cubic meters of gas, or 10 billion more than in 2001, Miller said.

When asked how Gazprom is cooperating with another natural monopoly, the Unified Energy Systems, Miller said they have arranged "a constructive dialogue and questions are handled as they emerge".

Gazprom "is meeting all of the national demand for natural gas", the chief of the gas concern said.

The president also inquired about the present level of the production and supplies of gas to the domestic and foreign markets. Miller said that Gazprom has produced 541 billion cubic meters of gas, 356 billion of which goes to the domestic market and 130 billion for export.

Gazprom is meeting all of its gas-supply obligations before foreign partners. In 2008 the company hopes to increase export to 200 billion cubic meters, said Miller.

As regards further development plans, the main priority is the construction of the North European gas pipeline, continued Miller.

"We plan to gain a greater entry on the British market", he said. And added that the North European pipeline will let the company emerge on new markets, including North American.

Investors from Germany, France and other countries have already shown interest in laying the North European pipeworks.

Asked about Gazprom's cooperation with Central Asian countries, Miller said the company will participate in the production of gas in that region on the production-sharing terms. Relative agreements have been reached with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmnenia.

It is also in Gazprom's plans to update gas transport systems in Central Asia and it hopes to become the owner of their property.

Agreement has been reached with Turkmenia on Gazprom's participation in the work to design and update its gas transport system. The volume of Gazprom direct investments in the development of Central Asian gas transport systems, with account for building work in Russia, amounts to 2 billion dollars.

Gazprom has now passed from the stage of stabilisation to growth, "concerning both the production of gas and the company's financial indicators".

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