Gazprom has posted strong financial results for its fiscal first quarter, with net profit rising by 102% compared to the same period last year.

In the three months ended March 31, 2006, Gazprom said that its net profit totaled RR185.2 billion, up RR93.5 billion, or 102%, compared to the same period in 2005.

Sales (net of excise, VAT and customs duties) increased by RR246.6 billion, or 73%, to RR585.8 billion, with net sales of natural gas up by 47%, primarily due to higher European and FSU prices for gas, as well as higher volumes of sold gas.

Sales of oil and gas products increased by 192%, due largely to increased market prices for oil and gas products, as well as the inclusion of Gazprom neft Group in the consolidated financial information.

Operating expenses increased by RR134.9 billion, or 61%, to RR355.3 billion, due in part to higher expenses on purchased oil and gas, higher taxes, and increased expenses on transit of gas, oil and refined products.

As well as announcing these encouraging results, Gazprom also revealed that it has entered into a gas transmission and supply agreement with Kazakhstan.

Elsewhere, AFX News reports that Eni has declined to comment on rumors that a proposed joint venture between the Italian firm and Gazprom will be subject to further delays, with an agreement not expected to be signed in mid-October as was previously anticipated.