MOSCOW, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Though China is becoming an important business partner, the European market is the prime destination for Russian gas, the CEO of Gazprom said Friday.
"The European market is No. 1 for us, and we are Europe's No. 1 gas supplier," he said.
Gazprom officials have expressed interest in moving deeper into a growing Asian economy in an effort to offset a stagnant European Union. Construction started this month on the 2,500-mile Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline to carry Russian gas to China.
A contract between Russian natural gas company Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. is for 30 years and calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year.
Russia's role in the European energy sector has come into question amid ongoing crises in Ukraine. Most of Russia's gas to Europe runs through a Soviet-era pipeline system in Ukraine and past debt rows have led to regional gas shortages.
Russia has options to diversify transit options with its South Stream natural gas pipeline, though European leaders this week adopted a resolution calling on European contractors to pull out of the project.