The Economic Development Ministry on Monday downsized by 5 percent its forecast for how much gas Gazprom would export this year, apparently reflecting the competition it faces from Qatari and Norwegian fuel. The company will export 205.7 billion cubic meters of gas, the ministry said in a revised economic outlook for this year, Interfax reported. Updated from December, the predictions will be reviewed during a Cabinet meeting Thursday. Gazprom's foreign sales took a heavy battering last year from competing suppliers to the European market, including Qatar and Norway, which offered lower prices. Compared with past export data on Gazprom's web site, this year may wreak more havoc on the company's foreign business, despite signs of a global economic upturn. Gazprom sold 209 bcm outside Russia last year.
Alfa Bank analyst Pavel Sorokin said Gazprom could still post a moderate increase in exports in 2010. After unusual cold snaps last winter, the gas producer reported an increase of 78 percent for sales to the former Soviet Union and 35 percent to the rest of its foreign customers, which include most of the European Union and Turkey, in its first quarter results under Russian accounting standards. The Economic Development Ministry was more optimistic about industry-wide gas production, increasing its estimate for the year by 3 bcm to 646 bcm. The oil industry will also outperform the December predictions by pumping 6 million metric tons more, or 499 million tons, the ministry said. Russia produced 494.2 million tons last year.