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Rosneft told to present gas export proposal to Putin

A logo of Russian state oil firm Rosneft is seen at its office in Moscow, October 18, 2012. — Reuters pic

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MOSCOW, Dec 7 — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered oil giant Rosneft to present a proposal to deliver natural gas to Europe, a move that would end Gazprom’s monopoly on piped gas exports.

Russian news agency Interfax reported Tuesday that Putin had tasked Rosneft to develop by March 1 a proposal to deliver up to 10 billion cubic metres (350 billion cubic feet) of gas to Europe per year.

The move would be in cooperation with the government and gas giant Gazprom and comes as Europe grapples with record-high gas prices that some blame on Russia, which provides a third of all European gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed the project was in the works.

“This subject is indeed being looked into by the government,” he told reporters.

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin, who is one of Putin’s most loyal associates, has long lobbied the Russian president to break Gazprom’s monopoly on natural gas exports and take advantage of soaring gas prices.

Europe is in the throes of an energy crisis, with gas prices soaring to record highs as economies recover after pandemic lockdowns and renewables like solar and wind see a slowdown in supplies.

Western critics have blamed Russia for the price hikes, saying Moscow is not increasing supplies to pressure Europe to agree more long-term contracts and approve the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Russia has denied the claims. — AFP

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