Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller is on a working visit to Iran, his company said in a statement on Wednesday, just as President Vladimir Putin prepares to fly to China with a high-level delegation for talks with Xi Jinping.

Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber met Miller, who also met Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji, Gazprom said.

“A Gazprom delegation headed by Chairman of the Management Board Alexei Miller, is on a working visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” it said.

The apparent absence of Miller, a close Putin ally who has run Gazprom since 2001, from the China trip was not explained by Gazprom.

Gazprom, the world’s largest natural gas company has been badly hit by the loss of much of the European gas market. It plunged to a net loss of 629 billion roubles ($6.9 billion) in 2023, its first annual loss in more than 20 years, amid dwindling gas trade with Europe, once its main sales market.

Russia has been in talks for years about building the Power of Siberia-2 pipeline to carry 50 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from the Yamal region in northern Russia to China via Mongolia.

Its capacity would be almost as much as the now idle Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea that was damaged by explosions in 2022.

Source » wkzo