Russian gas giant Gazprom said on Friday its net profit for 2011 had jumped 35 percent to $44 billion (34 billion euros) on the back of strong energy prices and rising exports as well as ruble gains.
The world's largest natural gas producer reported significant gains from sales to Europe and former Soviet republics while its profits inside Russia itself enjoyed only marginal growth.
The company said sales to Europe and other countries excluding the former Soviet states grew by 31 percent thanks to "the increase of average realised price in ruble terms."
The actual increase in the volume of gas sold inside Russia rose a relatively modest six percent.
Gazprom said net sales on the domestic market grew 16 percent while those to former Soviet nations shot up 42 percent.
It attributed the domestic gains "primarily to the increase in the average domestic price in gas established by the Federal Tax Service."
The state-owned firm has been lobbying the government for years to speed up the gradual rise in the rebated prices domestic clients currently pay for gas.
The company did not immediately report fourth quarter figures in keeping with its secretive tradition that has put off some potential Western investors in the firm.
It was due to hold a conference call later on Friday that will be closely watched for its response to president-elect Vladimir Putin's announcement that he intended to lift extraction taxes on firms such as Gazprom.
The state had been levying lower extraction taxes on Gazprom to partially compensate for the fact that it had to sell gas inside Russia at a rebate.
But Putin announced a massive new spending campaign in the run-up to his March 4 election to a third term that analysts believe will require large tax hikes on gas producers.
"Clouds seem to be gathering around the gas sector," Alfa Bank said in a research note.
"Any guidance on the portion of the burden to be levied on Gazprom is key to the stock's performance."
Source: AFP Global Edition