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Gazprom’s Medvedev holds meeting to speed coal accord

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the chairman of OAO Gazprom, held a meeting yesterday to speed the natural-gas monopoly’s entry into Russia’s coal industry.

Medvedev and OAO Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller met with the heads of OAO Siberian Coal Energy Co., co-owner Andrei Melnichenko and CEO Vladimir Rashevsky, according to an e-mailed statement. The two companies agreed to pool their power assets last month. „The formation of a joint company will substantially raise economic efficiency and balance the use of coal and gas in electricity generation,” Medvedev said in the statement.

President Vladimir Putin has said that coal should replace gas as the main fuel for Russia’s power plants. Such a shift will let Gazprom sell more gas - still sold domestically at regulated prices - to European customers at a premium. A union between Gazprom and SUEK, as Russia’s largest coal miner is also known, is opposed by the country’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service. The agreement would make Gazprom the largest provider of fuel to Russian power plants. (Bloomberg)