Viktor Khristenko, the Russian industry and energy minister, has come out against the forthcoming merger between Gazprom and Sibneft in a newspaper interview.

Mr Khristenko told the Vedomosti business newspaper that he fears the deal will only serve to strengthen Gazprom’s dominance of the Russian energy sector. Gazprom has provisionally agreed to acquire the oil company for $13.1 billion after it bought out the majority stake owned by oligarch Roman Abramovich. The Russian government is expected to ratify the takeover formally shortly.

This deal raises concerns linked to the size of Gazprom, the state’s role in the company and the fact that it is already a monopoly – and will also have an oil business, Mr Khristenko told Vedomosti. However the Russian government has deflected criticism of the deal by saying that Gazprom will enjoy greater foreign influence over its activities in future as a result of its equity free float.