'I hope that trends that have already begun will allow Russia to have a free gas market by 2005,' said LUKoil president Vagit Alekperov today in an interview with a correspondent from the Agency for Conflicting Situations. According to Valekperov, Gazprom is introducing elements of a free market at the moment, and the fact that the gas concern has agreed to accept gas extracted by LUKoil into its gas transport system is 'already a breakthrough.' Alekperov stressed that 'a free pool for acquiring gas at free prices above quota levels is another element of the market that Gazprom is introducing into Russia.
However, the LUKoil president said that 'in any case, reform of the gas market should be carried out systematically.' 'I am not a supporter of liberalizing the gas market immediately,' said Alekperov. 'In my opinion it is in everybody's interests that initially there is only one operator on the foreign market: otherwise it would be flooded.' After this, he believes that Gazprom may give LUKoil the opportunity to enter international markets.