(Adds details, background)
MOSCOW, July 1 Rosneft, Russia's
biggest oil firm, said on Tuesday it would take gas producer
Gazprom to court if it refused to offer the
state-controlled company access to a gas pipeline due to be
built to China.
Rosneft and Novatek, Russia's largest private gas
producer, last year broke Gazprom's monopoly on shipping gas
abroad, getting permission to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)
but not getting access to pipelines.
Since then Rosneft has pushed for access to the 'Power of
Siberia' pipeline, which has yet to be built but will link east
Siberian gas production with China, as part of a deal clinched
by Gazprom to supply China with gas over 30 years.
On Tuesday Rosneft said Gazprom as "an infrastructure
monopoly" was obliged to give access to its pipelines to
independent gas producers so gas Rosneft planned to produce in
eastern Siberia could give "light and heat" to the regions.
"We will ensure that our citizens' right to have a life they
deserve will be protected through talks ... and using court
procedures if needed," it said in a statement.
A spokesman for Gazprom declined to give any immediate
Russia plans to begin gas deliveries to China from 2019,
with a view to gradually bringing volumes up to 38 billion cubic
metres per year. Last week a Gazprom executive said the company
planned to build the pipeline using its own money.
The total annual capacity of the 'Power of Siberia' pipeline
is projected to be 61 billion cubic metres, with overall costs,
including to bring new gas fields onstream, at $55 billion.
President Vladimir Putin has suggested recapitalising
Gazprom to help meet the costs, but the idea was rejected by the
company because it feared it may open up the pipeline to
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Denis Pinchuk, editing by
Elizabeth Piper and Greg Mahlich)