Putin promises to continue energy production increases

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

At a meeting in the Kremlin on Thursday of Group of Eight (G8) energy ministers, Russian president Vladimir Putin promised that Russia will continue to increase energy production and to make nuclear energy more accessible.

"Russian companies are already completing projects that have strategic importance for a real strengthening of global energy security," Putin said. Putin, president of the G8 this year, has placed emphasis on energy security at a time when many nations are hit by rising energy prices and fears of supply problems.

Putin spoke of the development of the Shtokman field, which contains 3 trillion cubic meters of gas; of oil and gas pipelines, such as the ones under the Baltic Sea; and of a pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific. Russia has more than doubled oil exports, from three to seven million barrels a day. Putin addressed concerns the current pipeline capacity will not be able to keep pace with demand, saying the projects are "the first in a series that world markets will benefit from soon." Putin also said that the Duma will soon pass laws to clarify the role of foreign investment in future projects.

Some have been wary of the Russian government's growing role in the country's energy market. Gazprom, a Russian energy company that the government has the majority stake in, cut supplies to the Ukraine in January, affecting supply in several European countries. 25 percent to a third of the EU's gas supply comes from Russia, much of it by way of the Ukraine.

After the meeting on Thursday, US energy secretary Samuel Bodman said, “We are hopeful of a very substantial rebirth of the global nuclear industry.”