Gazprom profits soar despite European price falls

image captionGazprom supplies a quarter of Europe's gas needs

Profits at the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom have leapt 66% in the first half of the year, despite lower gas prices in Europe.

Gazprom supplies more than a quarter of the continent's gas needs.

It said it had sold 19% more gas to European countries, partly because the winter was colder than usual.

However, the average price it charged Europe fell by 23%, but this was more than offset by an increase in the price of gas sold in its domestic market.

As a result, net income for the six months to the end of June increased to 508.2bn roubles ($16.5bn; £10.2bn), compared with 305.7bn roubles during the same period in the previous year.

Falling market share

image captionEurope is less reliant on Russia's gas than it was

Gazprom is the world's largest supplier of natural gas. It also has the largest gas reserves of any energy company in the world.

The state-controlled company is hoping to sign a huge deal within the next year to supply gas to the fast-growing market of China.

Earlier this year, it cut supplies to Russia's neighbour Belarus in a row over payment.

Politicians in Europe are unnerved by such moves and want to reduce the continent's dependence on Russia for energy.

Over the past decade, Russia's share of gas imports to western Europe has fallen from 39% to 27%, according to East European Gas Analysis, a US-based firm.

It says Norway's share has risen from 16% to 22% over the same period.

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