UPDATE 1-Japan and Indian groups may split 10 pct in Yamal LNG plant-report
* Novatek seeks buyers for its LNG from Yamal
* Japanese delegation to visit Moscow on Dec. 25-27
* Mitsui spokesman says unaware of the signing ceremony (Updates with Mitsui comments)
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Two groups of Japanese and Indian companies may take a combined stake of almost 10 percent in Russia's Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, which would benefit from broader access to Asian markets from the sale, a newspaper reported.
Russia's top non-state gas producer Novatek controls 60 percent of the Yamal project, which plans to produce 16.5 million tonnes of LNG by 2018, and has said it wants to sell almost 10 percent to retain a controlling stake.
Citing unnamed sources close to the talks, Vedomosti business daily reported on Thursday that Novatek may split the 10 percent minus one share on offer between the Indian and Japanese consortiums.
It said companies involved were Japan's Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corp, and an Indian group involving ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil Corp and Petronet LNG - names that had been previously reported in Russia as being interested in the remaining stake.
A source at ONGC Videsh said that he was aware that about 9 percent is left for sale. "But nothing has been decided on that," he added.
Vedomosti also said a Japanese delegation is expected to visit Moscow between Dec. 25 and 27 to sign a deal on the Yamal stake.
Mitsubishi was not immediately available for comments. A spokesman at Novatek declined to comment.
A Mitsui spokesman said that he was not aware of the signing ceremony which is reported in the newspaper.
"We have various occasions to discuss business opportunities with Novatek," Yusuke Yamauchi said in emailed comments.
France's Total owns 20 percent of the Yamal project, while another 20 percent is controlled by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC).
Russia plans to double its share of the global LNG market to 10 percent by 2020, as it seeks to diversify its energy exports to Asian countries away from Europe where demand for Russian gas is sluggish. (Additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in Moscow, Nidhi Verma in New Delhi, Aaron Sheldrick and James Topham in Tokyo; Editing by David Holmes and William Hardy)
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