Europe to remain Gazprom's main market in mid term - CEO
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - Gazprom is continuing to regard Europe as its main natural gas market in the mid term, the CEO of the Russian energy giant said on Wednesday.
"In the mid term, we continue to regard Europe as the most important market despite the European Commission's plans to develop alternative energy," Alexei Miller said.
Miller said Gazprom expected gas consumption to continue growing in the European Union and to hit 600 billion cubic meters by 2020. "Due to cuts in production in Europe, the share of Russian gas on the market will increase from the current 26% to 33-35% by 2020," he said.
Miller confirmed new expected pipelines, designed to increase gas flows to Europe and reduce dependence on East European transit countries, would be completed on time.
He said the $12 billion Nord Stream pipeline, to bring gas from Siberia to Europe under the Baltic Sea, would come on stream in 2011 despite environmental concerns raised by some littoral states.
The project operator, Nord Stream AG, said earlier this month it planned to unveil a final environmental report to the Baltic Sea states in early March. Gazprom is building the pipeline jointly with Germany's E.ON and BASF, and Dutch gas transportation firm Gasunie.
Miller said South Stream, another pipeline bringing gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, would be built on time. He said agreements with Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary had been signed and entered force, and a feasibility study was being carried out.
Supplies through the South Stream pipeline, estimated at least $20 billion are scheduled to start by 2013.
"We will therefore be able to meet the region's growing demand for gas in full," Miller said.
Miller said ex-Soviet states were the second most important market for the company, including Central Asian republics where it buys gas.