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Russia does 'not want to be a monopoly' over gas supplies to Europe, energy minister says

Key Points
  • "We are not a monopolist on the Russian market and we do not want to be a monopoly on the European market," Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday.
  • Novak's comments come at a time when work continues on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline —one of Europe's most contentious energy developments.
  • Critics argue that the pipeline, which is to be laid under the Baltic Sea, will increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas.
Russia Energy Minister Alexander Novak pictured at a joint press conference during the 173rd Ordinary Meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria on November 30, 2017.
Omar Marques | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Russia has no desire to be a "monopoly" when it comes to supplying gas to European consumers, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday.

"There are talks of bans being introduced on Russian gas supplies but the reality is different … In reality, we see that European consumers are interested in purchasing Russian gas," Novak told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore on Wednesday, in a CNBC-moderated panel discussing the global gas market in Moscow.

"We are not a monopolist on the Russian market and we do not want to be a monopoly on the European market."

Nord Stream 2

Novak's comments come at a time when work continues on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline —one of Europe's most contentious energy developments. The pipeline is an $11 billion project directly connecting Germany with Russia.

Critics argue that the pipeline, which is to be laid under the Baltic Sea, will increase Europe's dependence on Russian gas.

The Gazprom-led development will allow Moscow to bypass Ukraine in transporting gas to Europe, with gas scheduled to start flowing at the end of 2019.

Nord Stream 2 pipes are loaded onto a vessel in the northern German port of Mukran for transshipment to a storage yard.
Nord Stream 2 | Axel Schmidt

President Donald Trump has previously expressed his disapproval for Nord Stream 2, warning Western companies investing in the pipeline that they are at risk of being hit with U.S. sanctions.

"The consumer should have a right to choose, to choose the country that supplies the gas and the routes of supplies and they have to be competitive," Novak said, before adding Europe is clearly keen to buy even more gas from Russia despite heightened pressure from the Trump administration.

Moscow's ability to shut off natural gas supplies, which it has done during past pricing disputes, is a long-standing concern for several European states.