With more than 445,000 employees and more than $100 billion in revenues, OAO Gazprom is the world’s largest extractor of natural gas. It is also Russia’s largest company and accounts for one-quarter of the country’s tax revenues. Former Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov is the current chairman of the board of directors. After the discovery of large gas fields in Siberia and the VolgaUral region in the 1970s, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) developed the commodity for export. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the Ministry of the Oil and Gas Industry oversaw the creation of a joint stock company that would become Gazprom in 1992. The company was privatized in 1994, with the Kremlin maintaining a sizable share. Viktor Chernomyrdin ran the company in the mid-1990s; when he lost his post as prime minister, the government demanded and received millions in back taxes. His replacement on the board of directors was the future Russian President Dmitry Medvyedev. On Medvyedev’s watch, the company took over NTV in a move to create a more politically friendly media environment for the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. In addition to its media holdings, Gazprom is also active in agriculture, banking, construction, and the insurance industry.
   In 2004, the state became the majority shareholder in the company; in the same year, foreign ownership of Gazprom shares became possible for the first time; the company is traded on the London and Frankfurt stock exchanges, as well as Russian markets. Gazprom’s largest fields are located in Yamaliya. Annually, the company produced approximately 550 billion cubic meters of natural gas and more than 30 tons of crude oil. Gazprom is estimated to control 17 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves. The Shtokman field in the Barents Sea is seen as the future of the company, as the field is estimated to contain 3.8 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and more than 37 million tons of gas condensate.
   Gazprom is the dominant or exclusive provider of natural gas to Austria, Macedonia, Moldova, Bosnia, Finland, the Baltic States, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The European Union (EU) as a whole gets a quarter of its gas from the company. Shipment is dictated by the company’s Unified Gas Supply System subsidiary, which controls compressor stations and 159,500 kilometers of pipelines across Russia. The company is developing two new routes to European markets—Nord Stream (via the Baltic Sea) and South Stream (via the Black Sea), following disputes with Ukraine over pricing and allegations of theft of gas en route to Europe. The dispute resulted in the cutting of supplies in early 2009; this major disruption followed smaller service interruptions and spats in 2005–2006 and 2007–2008. Following gas shortages in the Balkans and elsewhere, the EU publicly stated that Russia could no longer be considered a reliable partner in the field of energy provision.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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