The head of Gazprom's UK business, Gazprom Marketing & Trading, has told the Trade and Industry Select Committee of parliament that the company is committed to the UK for the long term.

Vitaly Vasiliev mounted a charm offensive on the part of the Russian gas giant as MPs quizzed him about the possible implications of rising gas imports from Russia. Mr Vasiliev stressed that the company’s desire to invest in storage and pipelines shows it wants to be involved in the European downstream segment for the long term, the Guardian newspaper reports.

Mr Vasiliev also sought to distance Gazprom from the influence of the Kremlin, apparently insisting that the company was ‘not state owned’ despite the Russian government holding a 51% stake. Gazprom hopes that British stakeholders will come to regard it in the same light as other overseas energy players in the market, such as Electricite de France or Germany’s RWE.

At one point, the select committee’s chairman Peter Luff interjected that Mr Vasiliev’s answers were such that ‘he should consider a career in politics’, the Guardian report adds.

Meanwhile, separately, Mr Vasiliev told the Kommersant newspaper in an interview that Gazprom would not attempt to buy UK gas retail major Centrica unless it was sure the deal would go through, implying that Gazprom had more work to do to convince the UK market of its status as a dependable partner.