Decision on Gazprom natural gas export monopoly expected in weeks
News on whether foreign companies will be allowed to export natural gas from Russia could arrive within a fortnight.
A Russian government commission could decide whether to dismantle Gazprom's export monopoly by the end of March, Sergei Komlev, head of Gazprom's contracts structuring and price formation directorate, said on the sidelines of the Flame gas conference in the Netherlands on Thursday.
Komlev told ICIS he expected the pipeline exclusivity Gazprom enjoys to remain, while the state might give up some control over the LNG sector. "The pipeline monopoly won't be challenged - only LNG," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in February that gas exports could be gradually liberalised, with a particular objective for Russia to take a bigger stake in the global LNG market.
Russia's state-owned oil company Rosneft and US major ExxonMobil are both looking to develop Russian LNG exports. They have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly study the economic viability of an LNG development in the Russian far east including the construction of a liquefaction plant (see sister publication GLM 14 February 2013).
Russia's largest independent producer, Novatek, is also developing the Yamal LNG project with estimated gas reserves of 1.56 trillion cubic metres. France-based Total has a 20% stake in this project.
Lifting the export monopoly would open up opportunities for Russian LNG swap trades involving supply to European companies. Rob Songer and Nicole Tovstiga
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