(EnergyAsia, May 26 2010, Wednesday) — Russia’s natural resources minister Yuri Trutnev is worried that rising production of shale gas and other unconventional gas around the world could pose a “problem” to Gazprom and exert further downward pressure on already weak natural gas markets.

Last year, the US displaced Russia as the largest gas producer in the world for the first time since 2001, thanks to the shale gas boom.

The growing interest in shale and unconventional gas, which are becoming an important new source of natural gas, has led to increased investment from major oil and gas players such as ExxonMobil and Shell. The new supplies could end up drawing away some of Gazprom’s customers in Europe.

Europe currently secures about 25% of its gas requirements from Russia and Gazprom is investing heavily in building new pipeline routes to supply its customers in Western Europe.