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MOSCOW, April 22 Russia's top natural gas
producer Gazprom said it would be able to meet
Europe's rising demand for gas thanks to new projects, even
while the European Union is aiming to reduce its energy
dependence on Moscow.
"According to most of the scenarios, which have been
reviewed, long-term gas demand will increase in the European
market, a key one for Gazprom, against the background of its
(Europe's) own production decline," Gazprom said in a statement
on Tuesday after its board meeting.
Supplies to Europe can be increased via the Nord Stream
undersea pipeline as well as through the proposed South Stream
link, which is expected to start operating next year, the
Gazprom also plans to build a gas liquefaction plant on the
shores of the Baltic Sea, which could then export liquefied
natural gas (LNG) to European markets.
Partly as a result of the Ukraine crisis, meanwhile, Europe
is stitching together a patchwork of measures such as raising
power output from coal and renewables to reduce its gas imports
from Russia by the end of the decade, easing Moscow's grip over
the region's energy market.
Reuters calculations suggest that these steps could slash
imports from Russia by around 45 billion cubic metres (bcm) by
2020, worth $18 billion a year, or the equivalent of a quarter
of what Russia currently supplies.
So far, however, Gazprom's gas supplies and its share of the
European market have been increasing as flows have declined from
other sources such as North Africa and LNG suppliers have sent
more cargoes to Asia, where gas prices are higher, instead of
Gazprom's share in Europe's gas market rose to 30 percent in
last year from around 25 percent in 2010. Its supplies to the
European Union and Turkey jumped to 162 billion cubic metres.
The Kremlin-controlled company also said on Tuesday it
expected to boost its exposure to the Asia Pacific region. The
company aims to reach a deal in May to supply gas to China after
a decade-long talks.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Jane Baird)