Russia's Gazprom replaces head of export unit to spur business

MOSCOW, July 2 Wed Jul 2, 2014 3:54am EDT

MOSCOW, July 2 (Reuters) - Russian oil producer Gazprom has replaced Alexander Medvedev as head of its exporting arm, Gazprom Export, with one of his deputies, Elena Burmistrova, as part of steps to increase its share in new and established markets.

Medvedev, 58, will continue in his role as a deputy CEO at Gazprom, the world's biggest conventional gas producer, overseeing foreign economic activities, social and sport programmes, the company said.

Sources said there was little reason to believe Medvedev, who had been head of Gazprom's export unit for 12 years, was being ousted.

"Gazprom's ambitious plans for external markets call for new structural and functional decisions," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said in a statement.

Underlining the importance of Gazprom in Russian politics as well as the economy, President Vladimir Putin met Burmistrova and Miller on Wednesday. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by RIA news agency as saying the three discussed "eastern projects".

A source familiar with the situation said Medvedev's departure was "technical" as he had too many responsibilities as Gazprom Export head but that he was still overseeing export policy.

Another source confirmed that Medvedev, known as a conservative manager, remained the "chief export man", with Burmistrova a close ally.

"They prepared the China (gas) contract together, she added a lot to preparations. Nobody is removing him, he is a board member responsible for contracts, talks, prices, etc," the source said.

In May, Gazprom signed a long awaited deal to supply gas to China over 30 years and worth $400 billion, which will make Beijing one of the largest buyers of Russian gas comparable with Germany.

Burmistrova started her career at commodities trader Glencore in 1992, joining Gazprom in 2003. She was appointed as Medvedev's deputy in 2011 to oversee liquefied natural gas (LNG) and new gas markets, among other responsibilities.

(Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Denis Pinchuk, editing by Elizabeth Piper and Timothy Heritage)

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