27 May 2007 - 10:58
  • News Code: 105649

The UK arm of the Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom made record profits last year after selling 60 per cent more gas than in 2005.

Gazprom Marketing and Trading (GMT) increased pre-tax profits in 2006 by a third to £33.4m compared with the previous year. Overall revenues almost tripled to £1.5bn.

 

The results, to be announced this week, come as GMT"s parent Gazprom faces hostility in the UK over its perceived links with President Vladimir Putin. Gazprom sells a quarter of all gas used by Europe"s domestic suppliers, such as British Gas.

 

Writing in The Times last week, Tony Blair said: "We are now faced with countries, like Russia, who are prepared to use their energy resources as an instrument of policy."

 

On the same day, the Government published its energy White Paper warning of the pitfalls of relying on gas from unstable countries. Russian authorities are in the process of stripping BP"s Russian subsidiary of its licence to operate the huge Kovykta field, which could be sold to Gazprom instead.

 

Gazprom expanded its UK presence last year when it bought a small energy retailer, Pennine Natural Gas, which supplies business customers including the retailer Bhs. GMT, which trades gas and carbon emission allowances, wants to build gas power plants in the UK. The Health minister Andy Burnham confirmed last week that the NHS energy purchasing team had met GMT to discuss the supply of gas to large hospitals.

 

A Gazprom spokesman said: "We have been supplying gas to the UK for the past 30 years and have also invested in infrastructure. We have seen our customer base grow enormously in the UK. Despite the political rhetoric, people seem happy to do business with us. If you do not look to us, you have to look to somewhere like Iran. We are possibly the two countries with the most gas to sell."

 

PIN/Independent.Co.Uk

News Code 105649

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