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Duma Backs Gazprom Export Monopoly

Russia and Germany are currently working on a pipeline that will carry Gazprom gas directly between the two countries (epa) July 5, 2006 -- Russia's parliament today approved a bill that grants the state-controlled gas company Gazprom the exclusive right to export gas.

Proponents of the bill say it is a necessary response to growing foreign competition for a stake in Russia's rich natural resources.

The European Union has urged Russia to offer foreign companies broader access to gas fields and export pipelines to reduce Gazprom's monopoly on prices and prevent the possibility of major disruptions to supplies.

(Reuters, AP)