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Gaz de France close to natural gas supply deal with Gazprom

Gaz de France SA, the operator of Europe's biggest natural-gas network, said it's close to reaching a gas-supply contract with OAO Gazprom, Russia's state gas company. „We're negotiating a prolongation of a long-term contract,” Jean-Francois Cirelli, the chief executive officer of Gaz de France, said at a conference near Paris today. „Russia is and will remain the biggest supplier to Europe.” Cirelli declined to say how much the contract was worth or how long it would run. Gaz de France negotiated the contract as a single company, not based on the assumption its proposed merger with the water and electricity utility Suez SA would succeed, Cirelli said. He's said in the past merging with Suez would give the combined company more negotiating power with large gas suppliers such as Gazprom. Asked why he didn't negotiate the supply deal after the merger, Cirelli said „time is of the essence, life goes on.” (Bloomberg)