Russian gas giant Gazprom is gearing up to sell gas direct to the end consumer in Italy by April this year, the SKRIN Newswire services has reported.

<p>The report states, quoting the Vedomosti newspaper as its source, that Gazprom deputy CEO Aleksandr Medvedev said his company will be ready to sell 100 million cubic meters of gas to Italian consumers by the spring and that this capacity could increase to 3.5 billion cubic meters by October 2007.<br /><br />The move is in keeping with Gazprom&#0039;s strategic desire to enter the retail energy sector of all the major western European markets. The Russian firm already sells gas to small-scale business customers in the UK and late last year was negotiating supply deals with Electricite de France and Total in order to establish a downstream French presence.<br /><br />A move into the Italian downstream market also represents a logical move, coming in conjunction with Gazprom&#0039;s recently established closer relationship with Italian major Enel.</p>