14 Jul 2010 14:07

Foreigners to get 49% in Yamal LNG project

YEKATERINBURG. July 14 (Interfax) - Foreign companies will be in for 49% of the Yamal LNG (liquefied natural gas) project, director of the LNG-project development department at NOVATEK Yevgeny Kot said.

"This structure is assumed for the project: 51% will belong to the Russian side and 49% will belong to three or four foreign partners that provide technological and financial support for the project," Kot said during a meeting devoted to issues involved in the development of the Urals federal district's economic relations with Qatar. NOVATEK is Russia's biggest independent gas producer.

"Normal procedures for bringing in partners to the project are underway," he said. Asked whether French Total would join the project, he said: "There is a wide range of interested companies. Total is one of them, but so far there have been no special agreements."

Talks with Qatar have only begun. "Their experience is of course interesting. In 2011 they will add capacity totaling 7.4 million tonnes of LNG: that is the biggest hub, the largest body of experience in construction of large-scale production. Moreover, Qatar has considerable financial strength, he said.

Kot declined to disclose who is the owner of 25.1% of shares in Yamal LNG.

It was reported in early July that a blocking stake in Yamal LNG had changed hands. As of the end of the first quarter Cyprus-registered Siritia Ventures Ltd, a Gazprombank company, owned 25.1% of Yamal LNG shares. At the end of the second quarter the stake belonged to Varix Enterprises Ltd. Gazprombank's IFRS statement for 2009 says it sold a 25% stake in Yamal LNG in April 2009 for 2.6 billion rubles.

NOVATEK purchased a 51% stake in Yamal LNG from the owner of oil trading company Gunvor, Gennady Timchenko, for $650 million last year. NOVATEK also received a three-year option to purchase another 23.9% in Yamal LNG for $450 million and plans to use it to bring in foreign partners.

In December 2009, Gazprombank agreed to sell a blocking stake in Yamal LNG to Timchenko's partner, the co-owner of the Surgutex trading firm, Pyotr Kolbin.

Shell and Total are the foreign companies expressing the most interest in joining the project. Total CEO Christophe de Margerie discussed the project with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in June, saying that the French company would be interested in acquiring a 20%-25% stake.

Later he said Qatar's entry into the project was a good idea, although he stressed that Total had made an independent offer.

Russia and Qatar signed a joint statement in April on further cooperation in oil and gas projects, including projects to develop gas fields on Yamal and in third countries.

Qatar Petroleum has expressed interest in projects aimed at comprehensive development of fields on the Yamal Peninsula, particularly Yamal LNG.

NOVATEK also signed an agreement with Gazprom that identifies the Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye field as the pilot project for creating LNG capacity on Yamal. Gazprom and NOVATEK have also agreed that the LNG from Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye will be exported under a long-term agency agreement.

Yamal LNG owns the license to the Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye field, whose C1+C2 resource totals 1.26 trillion cubic meters of gas and 51.6 million tonnes of condensate.