UPDATE 1-Total sees little Ukraine crisis impact on Yamal LNG project

Fri May 16, 2014 9:21am EDT

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PARIS May 16 (Reuters) - French oil major Total said on Friday tension between Russia and Ukraine would have little impact on the giant Yamal LNG project in Russia, although problems with initial financing and importing some materials were possible.

"The impact on Yamal LNG today is very slim in my opinion," Total CEO Christophe de Margerie said during the group's annual meeting, referring to the tensions.

"We may be slightly affected in the short term by financing problems or in access to some materials under embargo, but apart from any potential small delays in the start-up, it doesn't threaten the project."

De Margerie said Chinese investors might be able to offset the possible reluctance of Western financial institutions in financing the $27 billion project at a time of U.S. and EU sanctions against Russia.

"The Chinese are putting a large amount on this project, If they decide to put more, it could offset the international part," De Margerie told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, adding that Chinese investors were currently financing about 50 percent of Yamal LNG.

He noted the Export and Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) had already announced it was pulling out from the project and others might follow.

"We can feel that if things do not improve, a certain number of international banks and in particular Western ones, will postpone their decision," he said. (Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Brian Love and Mark Potter)

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