"The issue is being discussed of the supply of natural gas along an eastern route to China. Gas in this direction will go from the Chayanda gas field in Yakutia. An inter-governmental agreement with South Korea has been signed and gas has been contracted for supplies to Japan from the Sakhalin-II project," Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee Alexander Ananenkov said.
Ananenkov, who spoke at a meeting devoted to the development of the gas industry in the Russian Far East, said that Japan would start receiving liquefied natural gas (LNG) in late 2008 and natural gas supplies to South Korea would begin in around 2012.
The Gazprom official said natural gas supplies to North Korea were also possible, if a gas pipeline was to be built across the territory of the reclusive Communist state.
The Chayanda gas field in Russia's northeast, with proven reserves of 1.24 trillion cubic meters of gas and 50 million metric tons (about 370 million barrels), was included in the list of the country's strategic deposits in early December.
The Sakhalin II project, led by energy giant Gazprom, has estimated reserves of 150 million metric tons (1.1 billion barrels) of oil and 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The project also comprises an LNG plant, with a capacity of 9.6 million metric tons a year, which is due to be launched in 2008, and an LNG export terminal. Most of the LNG from the project will be exported to Japan.