UPDATE 1-Russia, Japan draw a blank on energy during Abe visit

Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:25am EDT

* No gas agreements announced during the Russia-Japan summit

* Putin: Gazprom ready to help Japan with gas facilities

* Rosneft, Mitsui sign MOU on petrochemical plant in Russia (Releads, adds detail, quote, analyst comment)

MOSCOW, April 29 (Reuters) - Russia and Japan failed to clinch any major agreement on energy during Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Moscow, falling short of hopes for cooperation to help meet the needs of the world's largest LNG importer.

Tokyo had expected Russia to present a proposal for Japan to participate in gas export monopoly Gazprom's $38 billion plan to develop and connect its gas fields in eastern Siberia to a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export hub near the Pacific port of Vladivostok.

But no such offer was presented, at least during public discussions on Monday with President Vladimir Putin, who said only that Gazprom was ready to help Japan build new facilities to import gas.

"The long and expensive supply route of the Vladivostok LNG plant may raise the cost of Russian gas above the level of price expected by Japan," Mikhail Korchemkin, executive director of Pennsylvania-based consultancy East European Gas Analysis.

Putin spoke at a joint briefing with Abe, who was elected last year, during the first full-fledged bilateral summit in the Russian capital in a decade.

"Gazprom is ready to invest its resources in increasing Japan's capacity to import gas and to invest money in the Japanese gas pipeline system," Putin said.

Russia seeks to strengthen its footing in Asia as it warily watches China's economic growth, despite warm ties with Beijing Russia could use Japanese money and know-how to develop its sparsely populated far east.

During Abe's visit, Russia managed to secure one energy agreement - a memorandum of understanding between Rosneft and Mitsui on joint development of a Rosneft petrochemical project in Russia due for commissioning in 2017.

The project is expected to process 3.4 million tonnes of fuel, mostly naphtha, to produce ethylene and propylene. (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Jane Baird)

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