Novatek in talks with Asia-based firms to sell Yamal LNG stake

AMSTERDAM Wed May 21, 2014 6:38am EDT

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Russia's Novatek (NVTK.MM) is in talks with Asia-based companies on the sale of a stake in the Yamal LNG project, Mark Gyetvay, its chief financial officer, said on Wednesday.

"We're still discussing a potential sell down of 9 percent but right now there's no decision," said Gyetvay, adding that although the discussions were with a couple of Asia-based companies, Indian companies were no longer part of the talks.

Russia's second-largest natural gas producer's major shareholders are its chief executive Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, a co-founder of Gunvor trading house. The United States imposed sanctions on Timchenko in March over Russia's action in Ukraine.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Flame European gas conference, Gyetvay said sanctions had not delayed any of the company's projects.

Novatek has been developing the $27 billion Arctic Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project with Total (TOTF.PA) and China's CNPC. The first production unit, with annual capacity of 5.5 million tonnes, is due to be launched in 2017.

"We're still on target to deliver the first stream by 2017, sanctions haven't delayed anything," Gyetvay said.

Novatek has aggressively increased gas production through acquisitions and plans to reach over 100 billion cubic metres a year by 2020 from 62 billion last year.

Gyetvay said Novatek plans to revise down its liquid gas production in the next week or two after a fire at its SeverEnergia venture curbed output.

"We'll still be in double digit growth for liquids but they're clearly going to be adjusted with the fire," he said.

The production of liquids, such as gas condensate, generates a large part of Novatek's profit.

(Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by William Hardy and David Evans)

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