GAZPROM TO BECOME MAJOR SUPPLIER OF NATURAL GAS TO U.K.?

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LONDON, November 17 (RIA Novosti's Alexander Smotrov) - The Gazprom major is going to become one of the leading suppliers of natural gas to the British market, Vitali Vasiliev, chief of Gazprom's new unit in the United Kingdom - Gazprom Marketing&Trading - has said in London on Wednesday.

"By 2010 we are going to occupy ten percent of the British gas market", Vasiliev said.

He added that Gazprom could build natural gas storage in Great Britain in the future.

Now, Gazprom has 19 large buyers of gas in Britain - Centrica, Total, BP, Scottish Power and others.

Beginning in 2005-2006, the United Kingdom will become an importer of natural gas to cover the shortage it will suffer.

Gazprom Marketing&Trading has replaced Gazprom UK Trading, established in 1999. While this earlier unit of Gazprom was engaged in co-running the Interconnector gas pipeline from Belgium to Britain, its successor has broader goals in view, Vasiliev said. They are

Gazprom's expansion to the British and adjacent European markets -- Belgian, German, French and Polish.

Among the main directions of the Gazprom Marketing&Trading activities are - selling gas to end consumers in the British energy and industrial sectors, running world-class business on the basis of Gazprom capabilities and world experience, forming market tools on "the most liberalised market in the European Union", Vasiliev noted.

Next year gas sales through Gazprom's new unit will come up to 3.4 billion cubic metres in comparison with 1.1 billion in 2003 with the sales revenue increasing from 90 million to 316 million pounds.

"Our company will provide for British partners direct access to the producer bypassing intermediary companies, real supplies through own or leased gas pipelines, as well as enhanced flexibility and a sustained rate of supplies", said the chief of Gazprom Marketing&Trading. Supplies of Russian gas to rank-and-file British customers are not yet in question, he added.

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