Putin hopes for deals between China and Russian gas companies

ST PETERSBURG, Russia Thu Jun 20, 2013 11:49am EDT

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ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he has high hopes for cooperation between "Chinese friends" and Russian gas companies Novatek (NVTK.MM) and Gazprom (GAZP.MM).

Last week, a source told Reuters that China's Sinopec was negotiating to join a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project run by Novatek.

Gazprom hopes to clinch a deal by the year-end to supply China with pipeline gas starting from 2018.

(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Steve Gutterman)

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