* West threatens Russia with sanctions over Crimea vote
* Gazprom's shares down 1.1 pct, bucking a rising broader
* European companies voiced support to deals with Gazprom
(Adds detail, share price, source)
MOSCOW, March 17 Russia's top natural gas
producer Gazprom is considering making changes to
contracts to keep its European customers on board despite
western sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, the Vedomosti
newspaper said on Monday.
Citing a source close to Gazprom, the daily said the company
might be willing to change its "take-or-pay" requirements, which
make consumers pay for gas whether they take physical delivery
or not. It did not give further details.
Gazprom declined to comment on the report.
Since President Vladimir Putin came to power 14 years ago,
state-owned Gazprom has increasingly become a foreign policy
tool, with Moscow using Russia's vast energy resources as a way
to exert pressure on foreign powers.
In disputes over gas pricing with Ukraine, through which
pipelines carry around half of Russia's gas exports to Europe,
Gazprom has twice in the past cut off supply, affecting other
countries as well as Ukraine.
A source at Gazprom said talks on revising pricing and other
conditions in the long-term contracts - a backbone of the energy
giant's relations with its clients - are always under way.
"There are 20 countries in which Gazprom operates; the talks
never stop. On average, a contract is revised every three
years," the source said, brushing off suggestions about talks
over sanctions. "Gazprom is not that flexible to react swiftly."
On the contrary, the Kommersant business daily quoted Sergei
Komlev, head of contracts structuring at Gazprom, as saying that
the company had been increasing its requirements under the
"take-or pay" clause.
SANCTIONS LOOM SMALL
Gazprom's shares fell by 1.1 percent in the afternoon trade,
bucking a 1.7 percent rise in the broader Moscow stock market
Germany's Bild newspaper reported on Friday that visa bans
threatened by the European Union and the United States in
retaliation for Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region
would include Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Rosneft head Igor
But analysts say Gazprom is unlikely to be hit hard by
"Falling European production, coupled with the Asia-Pacific
market swallowing up LNG volumes ... means that Europe does not
have much flexibility in terms of cutting gas purchases from
Russia, implying that Gazprom is most likely not vulnerable to
possible EU economic sanctions," Alfa bank said in a note.
The United States and the European Union have warned Russia
of sanctions as voters in Ukraine's Crimea region opted to join
Russia in a referendum the EU said was illegal.
European Union foreign ministers have agreed to impose
sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes on 21
officials from Russia and Ukraine, Lithuania's foreign minister
said on Monday.
Gazprom meets almost a third of European Union's gas needs
and has already agreed to cut prices for major European clients,
such as Germany's E.ON to help maintain market share.
Some European companies have already voiced their support of
cooperation with Gazprom despite possible sanctions.
BASF oil and gas unit Wintershall said last week
the Ukraine crisis would not scupper an asset-swap agreement
with Gazprom, which would give Russia greater access to gas
trading and storage in Germany.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Elizabeth Piper
and Jane Baird)