Gazprom, Russia's state gas provider, has been told to speed up exploration activities in the far east of the Federation.

Chief executive Alexey Miller told a high-level meeting that the Eastern Gas Programme, covering Siberia, needed to pick up speed.

The Sakhalin, Yakutia and Irkutsk gas production centers were all identified as locations for renewed effort.

In a statement on the Gazprom website, it was noted that in those regions the company had sufficient reserves to secure long-term gas supplies "for both Russian and foreign consumers".

The commercial reserves of the Eastern Gas Programme (EGP) at estimated at 5.2 trillion cubic meters (tcm).

In 2007 the Russian government approved the state-run Development Program for an integrated gas production, transportation and supply system in Eastern Siberia and the Far East, the EGP. China and other Asian-Pacific countries were seen as potential markets. Just this week Beijing and Gazprom signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on gas supplies via the eastern route.