* Q3 profit $8.13 billion
* Exports to Europe seen at no less than 150-155 bcm
* Ukraine owed Russia $2.7 bln for gas as of end-2013
(Releads, adds detail, background, quote)
By Alessandra Prentice and Denis Pinchuk
MOSCOW, Jan 23 Gazprom OAO, the
world's top gas producer, on Thursday raised its estimate of
core earnings for the year just ended but cautioned that exports
to Europe, the source of half of its revenue, could fall
slightly in 2014.
The upward revision to its forecast for earnings before
interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to
$58-$59 billion came after a 23 percent gain in core
Net profits declined by 10 percent, however, because of an
unusually large currency gain in the same quarter a year
earlier, estimated Alfa Bank analyst Alexander Kornilov.
State-controlled Gazprom revised upwards its full-year
EBITDA guidance from the previously expected $55 billion, after
gas exports to Europe jumped 16 percent year-on-year to 162
billion cubic metres (bcm).
The firm had an advantage on the European market in 2013
after exports from Africa fell due to political instability,
while flows from energy-rich Norway also declined as a result of
The firm sees exports to Europe flat or somewhat lower in
2014, Sergey Budzulyak, the deputy head of Gazprom's department
for exports to Western Europe, said in a conference call.
"This year we expect to stick to this figure (162 bcm), but
we're setting ourselves a goal of no less than 150-155 bcm,"
The firm expects neighbouring Ukraine to step up imports of
Russian gas to 35-40 bcm in 2014, up from around 27 bcm last
year, after Russia agreed to slash the price of gas for Ukraine
when Kiev walked away from a free trade pact with the European
Ukraine owed Russia $2.7 billion for gas supplies as of the
end of 2013, a Gazprom representative said on the conference
call, which analysts had hoped would shed some more light on the
company's ongoing gas talks with China.
On Wednesday, Gazprom proposed signing a major China gas
export deal in May, while industry sources indicated that the
Russian gas giant may offer a lower price in return for billions
of dollars in upfront payments.
Gazprom confirmed its hope of signing an agreement in May on
Thursday, but gave no further details.
Gazprom's Moscow-listed shares closed down 0.1 percent,
while its London-listed depositary receipts were trading down
2.1 percent at 1530 GMT.
($1 = 33.9392 Russian roubles)
(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Douglas Busvine and