Energy giant Gazprom started production at a major natural gas field in northern Russia, while President Vladimir Putin asked the company to look into the growing impact of shale gas producers.
Gazprom inaugurated the Bovanenkovskoye gas field, which is expected to yield 46 billion cubic meters of gas next year and 115 billion cubic meters a year in 2017.
Reserves at Bovanenkovskoye, which is on the Yamal Peninsula in the permafrost zone, are estimated at 4.9 trillion cubic meters.
The field is key to Gazprom's plans to expand Europe-bound exports. The state-owned gas monopolist has already built a pipeline leading to the field that would allow shipment of gas directly to Europe.
In Moscow, Putin ordered Gazprom to prepare an in-depth report on its export policies and look into the prospects of competition from liquefied natural gas, as well as shale gas producers.
Gazprom has for years played down the threat that shale gas producers could take some of its market share in Europe.