Head of Russia's Novatek sees no access to gas pipelines to Europe soon

MOSCOW Tue May 27, 2014 5:00am EDT

MOSCOW May 27 (Reuters) - The head of Novatek, Russia's largest independent gas producer, sees no chance of winning the right to export gas via pipelines to Europe in the near term despite getting government approval to ship super-cooled gas out of Russia last year.

In 2013, privately owned Novatek and state-controlled Rosneft were granted the right to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) out of Russia, breaking the monopoly of state-controlled Gazprom.

Gazprom also exclusively ships gas to Europe, a right currently being challenged by its rivals.

Responding to a question about whether he saw the possibility of starting exports to the European gas market soon, Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson told reporters: "I think there will be no such possibility in the near term."

Gennady Timchenko, a shareholder with Novatek, told reporters last week that he believed Gazprom's monopoly for European market would be broken one day to allow gas exports for "a Russian company" - a veiled reference for Novatek.

Novatek, which produced 62 billion cubic metres of gas last year - equal to around a year of Italy's consumption, sells gas to Gazprom and to other domestic consumers and is building an LNG plant on the Yamal peninsula to start exports after 2017. (Reporting by Katya Golubkova; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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