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CORRECTED-Gazprom says Sakhalin LNG to start early 2009

(Corrects headline, first and second paragraphs to make clear Gazprom is sticking to its deadline and not delaying the project)

MOSCOW, April 23 (Reuters) - Russia's gas export monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MM said on Wednesday it was sticking to its deadline to start exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from its Pacific Sakhalin 2 project at the beginning of 2009.

“We will start our first LNG shipments at the beginning of next year at the latest,” Alexander Medvedev, head of Gazprom’s export arm, told a briefing.

Last year, Sakhalin Energy, the operator of Sakhalin 2, controlled by Gazprom and involving Royal Dutch/Shell RDSa.L, Mitsui 8031.T and Mitsubishi 8058.T, said it would delay first LNG shipments to spring 2009 from the initially planned end of this year. (Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, writing by Tanya Mosolova)

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