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The Sunday Business Post: Russian gas giant to enter Irish market

01 July 2007 
By Niamh Connolly, Political Reporter

The world’s largest natural gas company is planning to enter the Irish electricity market as part of an overall expansion into Europe.

The state-owned Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, which doubled its profits to $23.75 billion last year, announced plans last Friday to increase its business in five European countries, including Ireland and France.

Gazprom supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas and plans to build a power plant in Germany to reach customers directly.

The company said at its annual meeting in Moscow last Friday that it planned ‘‘to expand its presence in the electricity markets of France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Germany’’.

Gazprom has a quarter of the gas market in Europe. Irish industry sources believe the gas company may initially enter the Republic as a supplier transporting gas through interconnectors, rather than as a power generator.

Market demand in Ireland up to 2010 has been catered for by the construction of three new plants – at Aghada in Cork (ESB), a second plant at Huntstown, Co Dublin (Viridian) and a Bord Gais plant in Cork.

Notification of Gazprom’s intent to enter the market has not been received by either the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, or the Commission for Energy Regulation.

Gazprom will announce a purchase in Britain in the near future, its deputy chief executive officer Alexander Medvedev said last month. The Russian giant plans to build a new pipeline with another company, Eni SpA, into Europe to meet a growing demand for natural gas.

The 900-kilometre pipeline, which could carry as much as 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Russia to Europe via the Black Sea, would boost the Russian gas company’s direct control of Europe’s energy supply.

The Kremlin recently adopted strong-armed tactics to curtail foreign control of its energy assets by pressurising other companies, including BP and Royal Dutch Shell to cede control in major Siberian projects to Gazprom.
 
http://www.sbpost.ie/post/pages/p/story.aspx-qqqt=IRELAND-qqqm=news-qqqid=24834-qqqx=1.asp

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