Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, increased its net income by 21 per cent last year, thanks to a surge in demand from EU countries.

The Russian company said income stood at 951.64bn roubles ($16.7 billion) in 2016, beating analyst estimates of 929bn roubles, according to a survey by Reuters. Revenues rose to 6.11tn roubles from 6.07tn in 2015.

Gazprom increased its sales to Europe – its most important market – by 12.5 per cent in 2016 to account for 34 per cent of the EU’s gas supply, and targets double-digit growth again this year.

The company achieved a major breakthrough this week in its plans to build a new pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany, when five EU energy companies agreed to pay for half of the €9.5bn North Stream 2 project, despite strong political opposition from some European countries.

Gazprom plans to increase gas production to 430.44bcm this year, its deputy chairman Vitaly Markelov told the company’s internal magazine this week, up 2.7 per cent on 2016.

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