* Gazprom announces first project delay since crisis
* Expects output to be depressed until 2012
* Sees gas demand picking up in Europe since April
(Adds quotes, details)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, June 16 Gazprom (GAZP.MM), the world's
biggest gas producer, may delay the launch of a major field
because it expects gas demand in Russia and Europe to be
depressed through 2012, an executive said on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Ananenkov told a news
conference Gazprom may postpone the giant Bovanenkovo field by
one year to the third quarter of 2012.
"We see that there will be no demand for that gas. So why
invest money in what is not in demand?" said Ananenkov.
Bovanenkovo is due to become the first deposit to go on
stream on the Arctic Yamal peninsula and if postponed would
become Gazprom's first major project to be hit by the crisis.
Ananenkov said Gazprom expects to produce 507 billion cubic
metres in 2010, 510 bcm in 2011 and 523 bcm in 2012 -- sharply
down from 550 bcm in 2008.
In 2009, Gazprom could produce as little as 450 bcm and as
much as 510 bcm this year, he said. The final figure would
depend on the economic recovery and on the weather.
"If the fourth quarter is cold, no-one will save money on
their own health," he said.
The delay in the launch of Bovanenkovo would allow Gazprom
to reduce 2009 capital expenditure to 500 billion roubles
($16.05 billion) from the earlier planned 637 billion roubles.
"There is a need to change our investment programme - not to
fully stop but to slow it down - and to lower capital
expenditures", he said.
Gazprom has been steadily increasing its production over the
past decade to achieve its goal of boosting its market share in
Europe to 33 percent from 25 percent.
But the global financial crisis has knocked it back by two
decades in terms of production volumes because of lower demand
European consumers have been also delaying gas purchases
since the start of the year, waiting for prices to finally catch
up with lower oil prices and switching to alternative fuels or
pumping gas from underground storage.
"Customers, being pressured by the global financial and
economic crisis, have naturally reduced purchases as they know
that gas prices will be lower in six months' time," he said.
"In the first quarter we have witnessed daily demand on the
Western markets reaching 260-280 million cubic metres. It was
200-170 mcm lower than in the same period of 2008".
"But from April-May we have already seen a significant
growth in consumption on Western markets. Today it is reaching
as much as 430 million cubic metres (per day)," he said.
To read a story about Gazprom's May output see
(Writing by Dmitry Zhdannikov, Editing by Anthony Barker)
(firstname.lastname@example.org, + 7 495 775 12 42)