* Novatek sees coordination with Gazprom in LNG of benefit
* Won right to export LNG last year
(Adds details, quotes, background)
By Katya Golubkova
MOSCOW, May 27 The head of Novatek,
Russia's largest independent gas producer, sees no chance of
winning the right to pipe gas to Europe in the near term despite
getting government approval to export liquefied natural gas
Novatek and rival Rosneft last year won the right
to export LNG, breaking the monopoly of state-controlled Gazprom
Gazprom also exclusively pipes gas to Europe, a right
currently being challenged by its rivals.
Asked about cracking that monopoly, Novatek CEO Leonid
Mikhelson told reporters: "I think there will be no such
possibility in the near term."
Gennady Timchenko, a Novatek shareholder, told reporters
last week that he believed Gazprom's monopoly on the European
market would be broken one day to allow gas exports for "a
Russian company" - referring to Novatek.
COORDINATION WITH GAZPROM
The company, which produced 62 billion cubic metres (bcm) of
gas last year, or about a year's consumption in Italy, sells gas
to Gazprom and other domestic consumers. It is building an LNG
plant on the Yamal peninsula to start exports after 2017.
Last week, Novatek agreed to sell up to 3 million tonnes of
LNG to Gazprom's trading unit from the Yamal plant. Novatek owns
60 percent of Yamal, with France Total and China CNPC
holding 20 percent each.
In quotes approved for publication on Tuesday, CEO Mikhelson
said the Gazprom deal meant that almost 100 percent of the
plant's future LNG output had been contracted, paving the way
for financing of the $27 billion project.
"They (Gazprom) have a contract to ship LNG to India while
all volumes from their Sakhalin plant are already contracted,"
Mikhelson said, referring to Russia's sole LNG plant,
Sakhalin-2, which has an annual capacity of around 10 million
Russia, which has the second-largest proven gas reserves
after Iran, wants to double its share of the global LNG market
by 2020 from its current 4.5 percent.
Novatek, Gazprom and Rosneft all plan new plants to supply
Gazprom owns almost 10 percent of Novatek. Mikhelson
indicated that both companies were ready to cooperate on LNG
markets, where Qatar, Australia, the United States and others
are also planning to bolster their output.
"I think that coordination of efforts in such a competitive
market as LNG would be of benefit to both companies," Mikhelson
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova; editing by Elizabeth Piper and