Russian LNG exports to find market niche

MOSCOW, Dec 3 (Reuters) – Russia’s three new liquefied
natural gas projects will find a niche in a growing Asian
marketplace, but there is no call to break Gazprom (MCX: GAZP.MEnews) ‘s
monopoly on pipeline gas exports, Energy Minister Alexander
Novak told Reuters on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed off on changes to
rules on gas exports and foreign trade, enabling No.2 gas
producer Novatek (MCX: NVTK.MEnews) and top oil firm Rosneft to
launch LNG projects.

“As of now, we don’t see such a need,” Novak said in an
interview in answer to a question on whether Gazprom might lose
its control over exports via pipeline.

He added that allowing new players or projects to export LNG
“will be discussed later based on the market situation and the
need to build plants.”

Russia wants to double its share in the global LNG market by
2020 from 4.5 percent. Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell (LSE: RDSA.Lnews)
own Russia’s only LNG plant, on the Pacific island of Sakhalin,
and Gazprom plans a second plant in Vladivostok.

Novak said that Gazprom still planned to sign a deal to ship
gas to China via a yet-to-be-built pipeline by year-end, as
earlier planned.