Gazprom may face a shortage of large-diameter pipes necessary for laying pipelines of strategic significance soon. Ukrainian pipe producers have almost entirely used the annual quota set by the Russian government for their imports to Russia. If the government does not increase the quota for Ukrainian pipe imports, Gazprom will be forced to purchase more expensive pipes from German and Japanese suppliers, since Russian pipe producers are not in a position to supply Gazprom with required volumes of pipes of high quality.
Two weeks ago, Alexey Miller, head of the Russian gas monopolist, sent a letter to the Economy Ministry requesting to double the quota for large-diameter pipes. Meanwhile, sources in the company say that this request does not contradict Gazprom's expressed intention to replace a part of import large-diameter pipes with their Russian counterparts as early as in 2005, the Izvestia newspaper reported.
An explosion of household gas occurred in a nine-storeyed apartment building in the city of Shakhty, the Rostov region of Russia. The blast destroyed two storeys of the building