According to Gazprom’s deputy chief executive Alexander Medvedev, the gas major will increase shipments to not less than 151 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe next year, up from at least 145 bcm in 2005. The increase amounts to a 4.1% rise on this year’s levels and follows a rise of 3.1% from last year.

Russia is already the biggest exporter of gas to Europe and the major increases in supply over the last two years reflects the significantly increasing dependence Western Europe has on Russian gas. According to Bloomberg, Russia will reap $27 billion in sales to Europe this year.

Meanwhile, to facilitate even greater future supplies direct to Western Europe, Gazprom has commissioned the North European Gas Pipeline which will span the Baltic Sea to Germany. German companies E.ON and BASF have already signed up as partners in the project, meanwhile Dow Jones has reported that Gazprom is considering BP, National Grid, Nederlandse Gasunie and Gaz de France as additional partners. The pipeline is scheduled to open in 2010.