MOSCOW, May 19 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said Thursday it was trimming its construction plans on a natural gas pipeline to the Far East in order to save capital.
With a European economy looking to break the Russian grip on the region's energy sector, the Kremlin has shifted focus on building successful trade relations with Asia-Pacific economies.
Gazprom has a 30-year sales agreement with China National Petroleum Corp. that calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year through a pipeline dubbed the Power of Siberia. Vitaly Markelov, a member for Gazprom's board, said the company was scaling back its short-term vision for the project after building about 70 miles of the pipeline.
"This year it is planned to build 250 miles," he was quoted by Russian news agency Itar-TASS as saying. "We have cut our plans on construction considering optimization of costs, but we don't change our plans on launching new capacities before 2018."
According to the Russian media report, the original plan called for 500 miles of pipe.
There was no indication of altered routes or volume plans for the project.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said recently there was "no doubt" the company was focusing its efforts on building new transport routes to Europe, a plan that he said was backed by growing regional demand for natural gas.
Gazprom aims to add more infrastructure to its twin Nord Stream natural gas line running through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Despite reservations from European officials wary of Russia's grip on the regional energy sector, Gazprom said it would commission the expansion before the end of the decade.