'Gazprom to increase its stranglehold on European gas market'
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Gazprom already supplies one third of Europe's gas and CEO Alexei Miller believes the energy giant can further increase its domination of the market.

"Today, in 2017, we are beating our 2016 record highs by around 10 percent. So we can expect new records this year and Gazprom's European market share is poised to rise," Mr Miller told Reuters.

Gazprom sold a record 179 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Europe in 2016, helped by the plunge in oil prices on which gas is priced and cold weather.

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European nations are expected to demand even more next year and Gazprom believes it can supply the additional 100 bcm a year the continent will require by 2035 as domestic output falls.

"A decrease in the North Sea gas production, as well as in other EU countries, is becoming a very important factor ... Given that, Russia's market share will be rising," Mr Miller said.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia's Arctic gas fields to Germany will help achieve that aim in the medium term and will also significantly cut the amount of gas that flows through Ukraine after 2020 when Gazprom's current transit deal with the nation expires.

Gazprom had previously threatened to cut Ukraine out entirely once Nord Stream 2 is completed, around 2019, and the current deal expires. But Mr Miller said some gas would continue to be sent to Europe via Ukraine.

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"We are ready for talks ... However, we can only talk about much smaller volumes, possibly around 15 bcm a year for countries which border Ukraine," he said.


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