Russia's Novatek signs agreements with Japanese companies on gas

A company logo is seen at the sales office of Novatek, Russia's largest independent natural gas producer, in Moscow September 16, 2012. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

TOKYO (Reuters) - Novatek NVTK.MM, Russia's second biggest gas producer, said on Friday it had signed agreements with Japan's Mitsui & Co 8031.T, Mitsubishi Corp 8058.T and Marubeni Corp 8002.T to cooperate in liquefied natural gas and other energy sectors.

Japan, lacking fuel resources, is the world’s largest importer of the gas while Russia wants to boost its global LNG market share, currently less than 5 percent.

Novatek’s Chief Executive Leonid Mikhelson said the agreements focused on potential gas production, gas liquefaction and liquefied natural gas transport.

Novatek is interested in LNG trading with the three Japanese trading companies, he said.

Marubeni said in a statement that it would explore opportunities to develop upstream and midstream areas for the Arctic LNG-2 project which Novatek is newly implementing, while Mitsubishi said the agreement with Novatek implies consideration of alliances in “gas and other areas”.

“The Asia Pacific region will grow by the fastest rates... and the Japanese companies, with which we signed the agreement, are present on this market,” Mikhelson said, adding that all the three Japanese partners could potentially become Arctic LNG-2 stakeholders.

The Arctic LNG-2 plant would be a follow-up to the $27 billion Yamal LNG plant, scheduled to launch production at the end of 2017 with a capacity of 5.5 million tonnes per year, with output rising eventually to 16.5 million.

The Arctic LNG-2 project is due to be commissioned by 2025, also with up to 16.5 million tonnes of LNG production.

Reporting by Katya Golubkova; additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; writing by Vladimri Soldatkin; Editing by Chris Gallagher/Ruth Pitchford