Russia's natural gas transport network overloaded - Gazprom head

Moscow, June 24 (RIA Novosti) -- Russia's natural gas transport network is overloaded, said the head of Gazprom said today.

When addressing the Russian natural gas monopoly's annual shareholders' meeting, chief executive Alexei Miller said network capacity had reached its technical limit.

"Seventeen per cent of the natural gas pipelines have been operating for 35 years, and another 41% are approaching the same age," he said. "Thirty-one per cent of the pipelines were built 10-20 years ago and only 11% have been built in the past 10 years."

"Major capital investments are necessary to support the network and adapt it to growing gas production," the chief executive said. He added that the expansion of the gas transport network was a priority for Gazprom.

According to Miller, 65% of investment is allocated for that purpose.

He also said the Russian unified gas supply system had transported 687.4 billion cubic meters of gas in 2004.

"Gazprom granted access to its network to 33 independent natural gas suppliers, ensuring the transportation of about 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas, which is 4.5 billion more than in 2003," the head of Gazprom said.

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