UPDATE 1-Gazprom's Q1 income tops forecast on higher sales to Europe

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MOSCOW, May 30 (Reuters) - Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Wednesday its first-quarter net income rose 11 percent to 371.6 billion roubles ($6 billion), thanks to higher gas prices and sales volumes, beating analysts’ expectations.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected Gazprom’s net income to come in at 338.3 billion roubles.

Gazprom generates almost two thirds of its gas sales in Europe, where it has a market share of around 34 percent.

The Kremlin-controlled company emerged largely unscathed from a seven-year investigation by the European Commission into its selling practices, making some concessions in pricing structure and allowing rivals a foothold in eastern Europe.

Gazprom said its revenues from gas sales to Europe jumped by 28 percent in January-March as prices rose by 17 percent, while sales volumes increased by 9 percent.

The company plans to further strengthen its exposure to Europe this year, reaching an all-time high in gas exports of almost 200 billion cubic metres.

In a sign of Russia’s rising energy might, Gazprom signed a deal last week with Turkey over the on-land portion of the TurkStream pipeline, which will run into southern Europe.

Gazprom said on Wednesday its total sales in January-March increased by 18 percent to 2.14 trillion roubles.

$1 = 62.6524 roubles Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Mark Potter