Russia's energy giant Gazprom launched production at a major natural gas field in northern Russia while President Vladimir Putin asked the company to look into a growing role of shale gas producers.

Gazprom inaugurated the Bovanenkovskoye gas field on the Yamal peninsula that 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 situated 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 shipping the gas directly to Europe.

In Moscow, President Putin ordered Gazprom, which is controlled by the government, to prepare an in-depth report on its export policies and look into the prospects of competition from liquid natural gas, as well as shale gas producers.

Gazprom has for years played down the threat of shale gas producers taking up some of its market share in Europe.

Gazprom's stock was down 1.8 percent on Moscow's MICEX stock exchange in late afternoon trading, in line with the market.