Investments in the gas sector have been made "on a forced basis" the past several years, and now it is necessary to shift to consistent and structured systems of financing, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said, opening a discussion on the investment program for the gas industry for 2002 at a government meeting today. He gave the opinion that in the future the gas sector "will be the key (sector) for the normal development of the economy." Kasyanov pointed out that Gazprom is currently the largest gas producer in Europe, and accordingly, the facilities being built now should be designed to guarantee stable gas supplies to both local and foreign customers. Kasyanov stated that he considers putting the Zapolarnoye deposit into service a month ago to be of particular importance, and remarked on the importance of the transport routes connecting Yamal to Western Europe, as well as of the Blue Stream project. The sources of financing of the investment program for 2002 should be "the profits of Gazprom, the income from selling assets unrelated to the core business, as well as borrowed funds," Kasyanov pointed out.
Rescuers found the pilot of one of the two Su-34 fighters that had collided in midair in the Far East on January 18