Gazprom Says Its Power Plan Won't Require State Funding

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said Thursday that his company would not need state assistance in financing its 100 billion ruble ($3.6 billion) program for power generation next year.

Miller said a "considerable part" of the investment program would be financed by bank loans. "We have already reached agreements on the loans," he said.

Miller's deputy Valery Golubev said earlier this month that Gazprom would need the government's help implementing the 2009 investment program.

Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina confirmed to reporters in Lipetsk on Thursday that the state did not plan to assist Gazprom with its overall investment program.

Gazprom has asked market regulators to delay the construction of some power stations that it is obliged to build in its investment program on the grounds that they would duplicate existing facilities.

Other generators have also tried to negotiate for delays with market regulators due to a declining demand for power and difficulties in obtaining bank loans.

Miller said Thursday that Gazprom's investment program would remain unchanged. "We will fulfill all of our obligations on investment in the electricity sector," he said, speaking at the opening of a new generating unit at a power station owned by Mosenergo, one of four power companies that Gazprom controls.

But Pyotr Bezukladnikov, chief executive of E4 Group, the engineering company that installed the unit, cautioned that things could change in the financial crisis. "We positively react on the announcement of no changes in the investment program but realistically understand that changes are likely to happen," he said by telephone.

He also said the Energy Ministry and state-run electricity companies have created traveling commissions to study where it might make sense to postpone the construction of power stations.