Gazprom profits expand as European exports hit record

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Moscow (AFP)

Gazprom said Wednesday its net profit climbed 11.4 percent in the first quarter as export volumes to Europe surged to a record level despite increasing tensions over dependence on Russian gas.

The state-controlled group said its net profit rose to 371.6 billion rubles (5.1 billion euros, $5.9 billion at current exchange rates), beating analyst expectations, thanks to both increases in export volumes and prices.

Operating profit jumped 59 percent from the January through March period last year to 467 billion rubles on an 18 percent increase in sales to 2.14 trillion rubles.

Gazprom historically generates most of its profits from exports to Europe, which climbed by 9 percent from the first quarter of last year to 71.5 billion cubic metres, the first time they rose above 70 billion cubic metre level.

Last year the group exported a record of 194.4 billion cubic metres of gas to Europe and Turkey.

Gazprom has in recent years been gaining market share in Europe, accounting for around a third of total consumption there, despite rising political tensions between Russia and the European Union, which has said it wants to reduce its dependency on Russian gas.