Russia looks for Asia LNG buyers to blunt Western sanctions' bite

Nikkei Asian Review | 7/14/2019 | Staff
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MOSCOW -- Russia is boosting Arctic production of liquefied natural gas to counter growing competition from the U.S. while looking to Asia's major energy importers to buffer projects against Washington's ire.

Russian gas producer Novatek agreed on June 29 to sell a 10% stake in its Arctic LNG 2 terminal to Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. and state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. Two Chinese companies -- China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Corp. -- have a 20% stake in the facility.

Terminal - Online - Japan - Tons - LNG

The terminal is scheduled to go online by 2023 and will supply Japan with 2 million tons of LNG annually -- about one-tenth of the facility's capacity.

Russia wants closer cooperation with Japan and China in developing natural gas reserves, and establishing more buyers in Asia will help insulate its companies against additional Western sanctions.

US - Sanctions - Russia - Year - Investors

"U.S. sanctions against Russia are likely to expand this year and many international investors, particularly in the West, are watching developments closely so they are not caught up in the new sanctions measures," said Elizabeth Rosenberg, senior fellow and director of the Energy, Economics and Security program at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank.

The U.S. has already threatened sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline currently under construction in Europe, saying it increases the region's energy dependence on Russia.

Threat - Turn - Asia - Sales - Japan

That threat makes the turn to Asia more urgent. Securing sales in Japan is very significant for Russia, and lower liquefaction costs in colder regions will make Russia's Arctic gas competitive, according to Andrey Polishchuk, an analyst at Raiffeisen Bank in Moscow. "The fact that companies have been able to attract investment, regardless of whether or not there are sanctions, shows the optimism about these projects," he added.

Just days before the...
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