* Gazprom to expand organically in U.S.
* Deputy CEO says Ukraine should be able to pay for gas
* Customers taking more gas since July
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By Edward McAllister and Robert Campbell
BUENOS AIRES, Oct 8 Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM)
aims to take a 10 percent share of the U.S. natural gas market
within five years, Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Medvedev
said on Thursday.
The company plans to expand into the United States as it
did in Britain in recent years, Medvedev told reporters.
"We are taking into account different opportunities, but
Gazprom marketing operated on the organic growth route in the
United Kingdom," he said.
"We are now following the same method in the United States.
We know how to work in fully liberalized markets," Medvedev
said at a press conference at the World Gas Conference.
The Russian giant plans to use liquefied natural gas from
its Sakhalin-2 project to supply U.S. customers and is also
looking at swapping pipeline gas in Europe to obtain supplies
for the United States.
In the longer term, Gazprom could send LNG from its giant
Shtokman field to the United States. The field, which is being
developed with France's Total (TOTF.PA) and Norway's
StatoilHydro (STL.OL) should begin production in 2015, Medvedev
Gazprom's European customers, which sharply cut back gas
purchases earlier in the year as the world economy swooned due
to the global financial crisis, have been stepping up their
purchases in recent months.
"Starting from July ... we see that the daily offtake of
gas is substantially higher," Medvedev said, adding shipments
were up by as much as 30 million cubic meters per day from the
low point earlier in the year.
Gazprom has received payment from Ukraine for the gas
consumed in September and Medvedev said that if contractual
payments continue there will be no problems for European gas
supplies this winter.
"We do hope that political factors will not negatively
influence (the situation) especially in view of the (Ukrainian)
election campaign ... we know that Ukraine has enough hard
currency reserves to pay for its gas," Medvedev said.
Disputes between Russia and its neighbors, like Ukraine
that host the giant pipelines that connect Gazprom with its
western European customers, have led to significant disruptions
of gas supplies in recent years, pushing the issue of gas
supply security up the agenda for European energy importers.
Medvedev said Gazprom had enough gas reserves to meet
future European needs as well as those of emerging Asian
consumers like China.
Gazprom aims to eventually hold a 25 percent share of the
world LNG market by 2020 with supplies coming from Sakhalin in
the Pacific, fields off the Yamal peninsula in northern Russia
and the giant Shtokman field in the Arctic.
The company is also urging Russia to liberalize the
domestic gas market, in part to spur on energy efficiency.
Russian industrial users are ready to operate in a liberalized
market, Medvedev said although the lingering effects of the
economic crisis may deter the government from moving quickly,
Medvedev said talks with ExxonMobil (XOM.N) over the gas at
the Sakhalin-1 project were progressing and he hoped to wrap up
a deal to have the gas sold into the domestic Russian network
(Reporting by Edward McAllister and Robert Campbell; Editing
by Marguerita Choy)