MOSCOW (Reuters) - Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s long-standing deputy chief executive, who oversaw an increase in gas exports to Europe, has been relieved of his post, Gazprom said on Monday.
The company did not provide further details.
Medvedev was a key figure in Gazprom’s often hard negotiations with European countries over gas supplies, which became politicized after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
He was Gazprom’s de-facto head of exporting business, although he had been replaced as Gazprom Export chief by Elena Burmistrova in 2014.
He had a difficult task persuading European countries to buy Russian gas and approve the construction of gas pipelines, such as TurkStream and Nord Stream 2, in the face of U.S. opposition.
Gazprom whose sales account for over 5 percent of Russia’s $1.6 trillion economy, will make an appointment to replace Medvedev in due course, the company’s spokesman told Reuters.
Medvedev had been Gazprom’s deputy chief for over 16 years.
“It’s a shock for many in the company,” a source close to Gazprom told Reuters after the news was announced.
Another source with knowledge within the industry told Reuters, Medvedev had strained relations with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller which could have led to his departure.
Valery Golubev, another deputy CEO, will also leave the company, Gazprom said.
Gazprom also said Vsevolod Cherepanov another executive at Gazprom who has chaired the gas production department, will change roles but continue working at the company.
Last year Gazprom set an export record by selling over 200 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe, including Turkey.
Gazprom’s market share in the region rose to more than a third and the company has been looking to gain an even larger gas market share in Europe.
However, it has been losing domestic market share and failed to secure its monopoly on gas exports after Novatek launched a liquefied natural gas production in the Arctic with the rights to sell the gas oversees.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Oksana Kobzeva and Olesya Astakhova; writing by Tom Balmforth and Maria Vasilyeva; editing by David Evans