Gazprom Expects Higher Gas Output This Year: Deputy CEO

The world’s biggest gas producer, Russia’s Gazprom, expects to increase output by about 1 percent this year, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Vitaly Markelov has said, according to Reuters.

Gazprom expects output of 475.8 billion cubic meters (bcm) versus 471 bcm in 2017 as it rebounds from a low of 418.5 bcm in 2015 which reflected a clash with Ukraine, once Moscow’s main gas buyer, as well as Western sanctions.

In a separate interview with an in-house magazine, Thilo Wieland, management board member at Germany’s Wintershall, said that the company would continue to finance the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.

It is not immediately clear if the interview was conducted before or after Alexei Miller, the CEO of Gazprom, was included in the U.S. list of so-called Specially Designated Nationals, sanctioned for alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other “malign activity” earlier this month.

Five European energy firms are financing Nord Stream 2: German energy groups Uniper and Wintershall, Anglo-Dutch group Shell, Austria’s OMV and France’s Engie.

The European Union has been skeptical about the project, which is aimed at doubling the existing pipeline annual capacity to 110 bcm, fearing this will increase Europe energy reliance on Russia.

Investment in the pipeline, which will cross the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, is seen at 9.5 billion euros ($11.6 billion).