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Kommersant: Putin, Gazprom CEO 'Probably' Discussed Personnel

CEP20020805000057 Moscow Kommersant in Russian 03 Aug 02


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[Report by Irina Rybalchenko: "Vladimir Putin Summons Gazprom Chief From Leave" -- taken from HTML version of source provided by ISP]

[FBIS Translated Text]

Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller from leave yesterday [2 August].  According to official information, during their meeting they discussed gas prices and the issue of Gazprom's preparation for the winter heating season.  But according to unofficial information, they discussed upcoming personnel reshuffles within Gazprom and its structures.

   According to figures from the Ministry of Energy, total gas production in Russia in January-July 2002 was 347,132 billion cubic meters, which is 3.5-percent (11.7 billion cubic meters) higher than the same indicator last year.  Some 44.59 billion cubic meters of gas were produced in July.  Total Gazprom production in the first seven months of the year reached 303.41 billion cubic meters (the figure for July being 38.63 billion cubic meters).

   "Aleksey Borisovich was told yesterday that the president wanted to meet with him.  He (Aleksey Miller -- Kommersant) was on leave in the Moscow region at the time and, naturally, accepted Putin's offer," Igor Plotnikov, head of the Gazprom Press Service, explained to Kommersant yesterday.  According to the information from the company press service, Vladimir Putin and Aleksey Miller discussed the questions of preparations for the winter, the results of Gazprom's work in the first half of the year, the prospects for developing new gas fields, and gas price increases.

   It is not clear why all of this had to be discussed at this particular time and why Aleksey Miller had to be recalled from his leave, which will be over in two weeks' time -- there are at least two months to go until the heating season starts, and the questions of gas price rises and the development of new fields are not urgent.

   Of far more importance for the Russian economy today are the prospects of attracting foreign investment -- specifically into the gas sector.  But Mr. Miller was not present Thursday during the visit to Gazprom by the delegation headed by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham (as reported by Kommersant).

   Instead, Deputy CEO Aleksandr Ananenkov (who, incidentally, also reported to shareholders at the annual meeting, where Aleksey Miller was absent through illness) held talks with the guests.

   It is worth noting that no specific statements were made on the results of the discussion of gas issues.  Kommersant was told by Gazprom that it does not know any details of the meeting.  The Presidential Staff Press Service was also silent.  News agencies merely quoted the Gazprom chief's comments on the current state of relations with Sibur, which Mr. Miller has called poor.  "A new board of directors (of the Sibur company -- Kommersant) with Gazprom representatives in the majority has now been elected.  New managers of the company have been appointed.  Sibur's main assets have been returned to the state, and a business plan for the next five years is currently being drawn up," the Gazprom chief added.  Vladimir Putin's rejoinder to the effect that the rate of the population's incomes growth should be higher than price rises in general and rises in prices of energy sources and gas in particular was also quoted.

   A ranking Kommersant source at Gazprom assumes that the meeting most probably discussed personnel matters.  We would recall that last month two key figures -- Oleg Siyenko, general director of the Gazeksport Limited Company (Gazeksport is a Gazprom subsidiary tasked with gas sales to EU and East European countries), and Deputy CEO Vyacheslav Sheremet, the last representative of former Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev's team -- were dismissed at the same time.  According to Kommersant's information, Mr. Siyenko paid for his excessive autonomy -- his attempts to optimize the company's work and to make its export policy more open ran contrary to the interests of the Gazprom leadership.  As far as Mr. Sheremet, who was in charge of financial matters at Gazprom, is concerned, his contract, which expired several months ago, was not extended.  He was effectively removed in the wake of his arrest [zaderzhaniye] in the criminal case with former Sibur President Yakov Goldovskiy 8 January 2002.  And yesterday's meeting probably discussed possible successors to these dismissed top managers.  Gazprom and the Presidential Staff are for the time being refraining from commenting officially on the subject.  Kommersant will be monitoring developments.

[Description of Source: Moscow Kommersant in Russian -- Informative daily newspaper purchased by Boris Berezovskiy in 1999 and often reflecting his viewpoint.]


Russia: Gazprom chief, US Energy Secretary discuss cooperation

CEP20020801000257 Moscow Interfax in English 1538 GMT 1 Aug 02

[FBIS Transcribed Text]

MOSCOW. Aug 1 (Interfax)- During their meeting in Moscow on Thursday, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Alexander Ananenkov, the acting chairman of gas giant Gazprom's executive board and a member on the company's board of directors, discussed the development of cooperation in the energy and gas industries between corresponding Russian and U.S. companies.
  In a press release, Gazprom said that Abraham forwarded an official invitation to Gazprom to take part in a U.S.-Russia oil and gas summit scheduled for early October 2002 in Houston, Texas. This summit is expected to become "a new phase in the development of gas cooperation."
  This forum might also address key issues such as the application of state-of-the-art technologies in gas production and transportation, investments in the gas sectors of Russia, the U.S. and other countries in addition to joint projects involving the two countries' oil and gas companies and supplies of Russian liquefied gas to the United States, according to the press release.
  Ananenkov briefed the U.S. energy minister on the main avenues of Gazprom's activities, including a program aimed at developing a single gas network in Siberia and the Far East and a program for the development of oil and gas deposits on the Yamal peninsula. The parties also discussed options for working with independent gas producers in addition to the domestic gas pricing system.
[Description of Source: Moscow Interfax in English -- non-government information agency known for its aggressive reporting, extensive economic coverage, and good coverage of Russia's regions]


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