Gazprom says China gas exports continue despite fire at Amur plant

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MOSCOW, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Friday that Russian pipeline gas exports to China continued despite a fire that led to a halt in operations at the Amur gas processing plant in Russia's Far East.

The plant plays an important role in Russian gas exports to China, which has been hit by electricity shortages that have led to power rationing across the country. read more

Gazprom said in a statement it continued to export gas to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline in line with daily nominations.

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A spokesman at the plant said in an email that operations had been suspended but only one of the plant's processing lines had caught fire, while others were not affected. The fire was extinguished at 1.05 p.m. (0405 GMT), the plant said later.

The local general prosecutor's office said the blaze erupted after the decompression of plant equipment. It said no one was hurt and an investigation into the incident had started.

Videos posted on social media showed a fire at industrial facilities, identified as the Amur plant, with workers in orange overalls and helmets filming the incident on their phones.

The Amur gas processing plant (GPP), designed to process 42 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year, was launched in June to help to supply gas to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline. read more

Commenting on the incident, Moscow-based brokerage Sova Capital wrote: "The fire at the Amur GPP could mean a drop in exports to China, but if the fire is limited to one unit, exports may not be affected.

"We expect Gazprom to export more than the guided 8.5 bcm to China this year, with our forecast at 9.5 bcm," it wrote.

A fire at another Gazprom plant in Russia's north in August resulted in reduced gas condensate output and cuts in gas supplies to Europe.

Alongside processing natural gas, the Amur plant is eventually expected to produce up to 60 million cubic metres of helium a year, 1 million tonnes of propane, about 500,000 tonnes of butane and 2.5 million tonnes of ethane.

Full capacity is expected to be reached in 2025, making it one of the world's largest gas processing plants.

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Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Editing by David Goodman and Edmund Blair

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