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    BRUSSELS, April 5, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Shishlo) - By 2030, the general dependence of European Union member states on natural gas imports will be 70%, while natural gas production will begin to drop in 2020, Ivan Ivanov, representative of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Belgium, told RIA Novosti. Mr. Ivanov participated in the annual European Gas Congress which ended in Brussels yesterday.

    According to Mr. Ivanov, by 2030, about 20% of the demand of EU member states will be satisfied by liquid natural gas imports. Currently, the EU is actively searching for supplies 5,000-7,000 kilometers from its borders.

    "Measures have been outlined to annually save 1%. Despite this, no more than one third of the required amount of natural gas can be imported from Russia," Mr. Ivanov said.

    At the same time, the expert said while addressing the congress, a representative of the European commission stated, that the executive branch of the EU intended "to bring to an end" the changes in a number of the terms in Gazprom's long-term contracts for natural gas deliveries to European consumers regarding the conditions of competition.

    Mr. Ivanov also said that at the congress in Brussels the objective data about the ejections into the atmosphere of the natural gas produced in Russia were made public. They amount to only 0.9%.

    However, Mr. Ivanov continued, "in an attempt to find faults with the Russian natural gas exports," the European press have recently started to claim that the figure is at least 11%.

    Mr. Ivanov also said that the participants in the congress criticized the European Commission's liberalization of the natural gas market. According to him, it has not resulted in lower consumer prices everywhere and it has shifted the attention from long-term to short-term interests in the development of the industry, brought about speculative deals and the uncertainty of future investors.

    "As a result, the entire investment in the natural gas industry in Europe in perspective has been jeopardized," remarked Mr. Ivanov.

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