Russia's Gazprom raises investment guideline

Company said it needs an adjustment to focus on gas transmission and strategic priorities.

By Daniel J. Graeber

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said its board of directors approved a revised budget that reflects a need to increase spending over the long-term.

Company management said a revised program for the year pegs investments at $19 billion, about $3 billion more than outlined in the investment program approved in December.


"The adjustments to the investment program for 2017 were mainly caused by the need to increase spending and long-term financial investments with regard to Gazprom's priority gas transmission and production projects of strategic importance," the company said in a statement.

Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller said in early September that total production for the first eight months of the year was 20.1 percent higher than last year. In terms of the origin, the Yamal Peninsula in the far Arctic north of Russia is its main production center.

The "cornerstone" of Gazprom's strategy is operations in Eastern markets. The company 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 the so-called Power of Siberia pipeline, which Miller said was progressing ahead of schedule.


Elsewhere, the company is aiming to double the capacity of its twin Nord Stream natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to Germany. A networked dubbed Turkish Stream, meanwhile, would tap into southern European networks by running through Turkey.

European leaders have expressed concern about Russia's regional energy policy. Gazprom is accused of exploiting its position in Europe as both the supplier and transporter of natural gas.

In a preview of its World Energy Outlook, due out in November, the International Energy Agency said the natural gas market is in flux as it adjusts to the shale momentum in the United States and gains in liquefied natural gas, both of which could bring a sea change to natural gas markets.

Russia is one of the world's largest oil and natural gas producers. Its economy lingered in recession last year and the national currency, the ruble, declined in value after crude oil prices dipped below $30 per barrel. Oil prices have been fluid this year, trading in a range of around $45 per barrel to $55 per barrel, still about half the price from three years ago.

The Federal Treasury reported a budget deficit of $7 billion for the first eight months of the year was down less than 1 percent from the same period last year.


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