President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Speech at a Gala Evening to Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Gazprom’s Incorporation

Good day, dear friends!

First of all, I want to congratulate you and all Gazprom employees on the 15th anniversary of the company's founding.

I wish you every success and new achievements for the benefit of Russia.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin

Gazprom's impact on the country’s economy, the social sphere and our position in global markets has been enormous. In the 1990s the company played a stabilising role during Russia's difficult transition to a market economy. Our strong resource base and productive capacity have become one of the factors driving the national economy.

Today Gazprom is a modern, open, dynamic company. In just the last five years, the amount of tax it pays has more than doubled and it accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country’s budget. Gazprom's capitalisation has reached a new historic high, surpassing the 350 billion dollar mark. It is one of the largest companies in the world.

Incidentally, I have just met with some veteran employees and some of their younger colleagues, and I reminded them that at this podium five years ago I said that we were not going to break up Gazprom but strengthen it. As you can see, that is what has happened.

Gazprom is not just a vital component of our national energy system. Its growing potential, the expansion of gasification in Russia and the increase in energy exports have greatly increased Russia's credibility as a reliable supplier for the CIS countries and abroad. This has also improved international energy security.

I want to mention in particular the company's participation in our country's social programs. Supplying gas to Russia's regions has become a nationwide project. Between 2005 and 2007 Gazprom allocated 43 billion rubles for the implementation of this programme. As a result, three years later gas is being delivered to 13 million citizens in 53 regions of Russia. And the overall level of gasification of the country has risen from 54 to 62 per cent. In three short years that is a considerable accomplishment.

Obviously, the success of the company has been in large part due to intelligent and flexible policies, not only Gazprom's but also those of the government and the state. Such close cooperation is in full accord with the current trends in the global oil and gas industry. Moreover, it provides the company, the industry and the entire economy with additional opportunities for long-term development. Given Gazprom's strategic importance for Russia, the state will continue to keep the situation under its direct control.

Dear friends!

Today our priority task is to further enhance Gazprom's effectiveness and competitiveness in international markets. And for that we need to encourage new investment, use modern corporate governance standards, and implement advanced technologies for the production and processing of raw materials.

Already in the short term Gazprom is planning to develop very rich reserves in the Yamal Peninsula, the Far East and Eastern Siberia, and to explore complex offshore fields on the submerged margins of continental plates in the northern seas.

Economic logic and Russia's export interests require us to proceed more boldly and energetically in the most promising and fastest growing markets. And not only in Europe, where Gazprom now plays a leading role. While increasing market share in Europe, Gazprom should more aggressively seek out new markets for natural gas, in the Asia-Pacific countries, North America and on other continents.

I am sure that you will exert your utmost efforts to make the company more effective and multifaceted.

I congratulate you on this anniversary, on this holiday, and I wish you new successes for the benefit of Russia!

President of Russia Vladimir Putin