* Putin yet to approve amendments to the law
* Russia wants to double its global LNG market share
MOSCOW Nov 27 Russia's upper house of
parliament approved on Wednesday legislative amendments to allow
rivals of state-run Gazprom to export seaborne
liquefied natural gas, paving the way for Russia to double its
global LNG market share by 2020.
Only Russian President Vladimir Putin, who initiated the
changes, now has to approve the amendments. Lawmakers had
earlier said the law would come into force next year, three
years before the first new LNG plant is launched.
State-run Gazprom was awarded exclusive rights to export
natural gas in 2006.
But changes to the law to open up exports of super-cooled
gas have been warranted by increasing competition in the global
LNG market from Qatar, Australia and African countries. Gazprom
has been slow to develop its own projects.
"The decision to increase the line-up of exporters of
natural gas in the form of LNG must secure an increase in
Russia's share of the gas market," an upper house document said.
Gazprom's monopoly on pipeline gas exports, which are
currently pumped only in Europe, stays intact.
Russia wants to double its share in the global LNG market by
2020 from 4.5 percent currently. Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell
are key shareholders in Russia's only LNG plant,
located on the Pacific island of Sakhalin.
The law would allow Russia's No.2 gas producer Novatek
as well as Russia's top oil company Rosneft
to proceed with their LNG projects, which they want to
commission in a few years.
The law restricts Rosneft's LNG exports to those produced
from offshore deposits.