MOSCOW, December 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a landmark law breaking state-owned Gazprom’s monopoly on gas exports, according to a document published on a government site Monday.
Gazprom will keep its export monopoly on gas carried through pipelines, but the new law will allow Russian producers to export liquefied natural gas, the super-cooled fuel increasingly in demand on international markets.
Domestic gas producers have been posing a growing threat to Gazprom’s traditional dominance in recent years as they expand their operations inside Russia and push ahead with LNG export plans.
The legislation was passed by the upper house of parliament last week and has now been signed by Putin, according to a copy of the document published on government site pravo.ru. The primary beneficiaries are expected to be independent gas producer Novatek and state-owned oil giant Rosneft, both of which have plans to develop LNG facilities that are likely to be oriented toward serving the growing Asian energy market.
Novatek, controlled by billionaires Gennady Timchenko and Leonid Mikhelson, is partnered with China’s CNPC and France’s Total in a $20 billion LNG project in the Arctic Yamal peninsula. Rosneft has plans to build an LNG terminal in Russia’s Far East.
The only working LNG plant in Russia is located on Sakhalin, an island off the eastern coast, and is owned by a Gazprom-led consortium that also includes Anglo-Dutch major Shell.