MOSCOW, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- Other Russian energy companies may wade into the European market in the evolving sanctions era, Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko said.
The U.S. and European governments in July issued new economic sanctions against Russian energy companies in response to the Kremlin's position on crises in Ukraine. Timchenko himself was the target of U.S. sanctions enacted in March.
The Russian economy depends heavily on energy exports, with most of the growth in gross domestic product coming from oil and natural gas. Timchenko told Russian news agency Itar-TASS that Russian legislation leaves the bulk of the gas export market in the hands of Russian energy company Gazprom.
"We don't meddle with the process," he said in an interview published Sunday. "Quite possibly, other Russian companies will be admitted to the European market over time, but it's the state that must decide."
July analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said Russia received nearly four times as much revenue from crude oil exports as from natural gas.
Timchenko said Gazprom's role in the Russian economy was so vital, however, that "one awkward step may bring about a lot of harm."