MOSCOW, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas company Gazprom said it discussed with French officials the prospect of building new pipelines to meet growing European demand.
Alexei Miller, the top executive at Gazprom, met with French Ambassador to Russia Jean de Gliniasty in Moscow to discuss "crucial issues" between Gazprom and French energy companies.
"The parties shared the opinion that new direct gas transmission capacities had to be built from Russia to Europe in order to meet the growing demand of European consumers for Russian natural gas," Gazprom said in a statement.
Gazprom struggled to meet European gas demands during a brutal cold spell that gripped parts of the region this year.
A dispute between transit-nation Ukraine and Russia prompted Gazprom to cut gas supplies to downstream consumers in Europe in 2009. That dispute helped spark a race to diversify the regional energy sector.
French energy company GDF Suez is one of Gazprom's partners in the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline, which avoids Ukrainian territory by cutting through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Construction on Nord Stream's counterpart, South Stream, starts in December.
Europe aims to get more natural gas from non-Russia suppliers like Azerbaijan. A BP-led consortium working in Azerbaijan announced Monday the proposed Trans-Adriatic Pipeline is a possible preferred transit route for Europe.