Asia eyes Russian Arctic gas as Australian costs climb

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SummaryNovatek, which holds 80 percent of the Yamal liquefied natural gas licence has no rights yet to export future production.

billion cubic metre (bcm) South Tambei field on the Yamal Peninsula.

They hope to raise capacity to 15 million tonnes by 2018 and ship the LNG east through Arctic seas using special icebreaker vessels. But a final investment decision on Yamal is two months overdue.

GOVT DECISION SOON?

Novatek has asked the government for an exemption that would break the Gazprom monopoly. But Gyetvay played down the importance of any looming liberalisation to the future of Yamal, in which French international oil company Totalalready holds a 20 percent stake.

"There've been discussions over the last week with the Russian government about liberalising the LNG markets and we'll wait for them to come back to us, supposedly by the end of March," he told Reuters on the sidelines of the International Petroleum Week conference.

"(But) the interest in our project is that it's going to deliver 15 to 16 million tonnes (per year) of LNG around the world, and there's a market for that LNG."

Igor Sechin, head of leading Russian state oil and gas  firm Rosneft, is also eyeing a possible LNG project with ExxonMobil, partner in its Sakhalin-1 project, which is sited closer to potential buyers such as China or Japan.

Sechin visited both China and Japan this week for LNG talks after lobbying for Gazprom's export monopoly to be lifted only for LNG produced offshore - as would be the case for its output off the Pacific island of Sakhalin.

Sechin also serves as secretary of Russia's strategic energy policy commission and wields influence on gas  policy behind the scenes. Russian media have reported that he backs an exemption for Yamal.

Novatek is controlled and owned by its Chief Executive Leonid Mikhelson and by trading house Gunvor's co-owner Gennady Timchenko. Timchenko is also a close associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

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