CORPORATE EXECUTIVES WELCOME LIBERALIZATION OF NATURAL GAS SECTOR AS TIMELY MEASURE

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MOSCOW, April 6 (RIA Novosti) - Yuri Shafranik, Board Chair of the Oil & Gas Industrialists Union, has welcomed plans to liberalize pricing in the natural gas sector as a timely measure. Russia has got some relevant experience already, he said, referring to reforms implemented in the oil and coal industries in the early 1990s. According to him, those reforms had a positive impact on the coal sector, enabling it to operate without huge government subsidies.

As for the gas industry, its role in the 1990s and early 2000s was not so much economic as it was social, Shafranik remarked. Now it's time for sweeping reform here, too, and the liberalization of pricing will be a good start, he said while stressing the importance of protecting the interests of individual consumers.

Speaking of other priority measures to be taken as part of the gas sector reform, Mr Shafranik mentioned the provision of free access to pipelines by private producers and support of small and medium-sized businesses.

Shafranik also hailed the government's proposal to set up a gas exchange, saying it was largely a technical issue. Exchanges are a mechanism for buying and selling, and suppliers and consumers need them as a meeting ground where they could make their transactions, he said.

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