Leonid Mikhelson, CEO and chairman of Russia's second-largest gas company, Novatek, has questioned newly-introduced US sanctions on a major Chinese shipper that have made waves in the LNG industry.
"Last December, we loaded the project to the full, a year earlier [than it had been planned], and we are successfully exporting all the production. We will receive the planned number of tankers by year end only, so I see no complications for Novatek, regardless of those sanctions or not even sanctions but proposals," Mikhelson said on Wednesday at the Russian Energy Week forum.
"I do not understand the link between LNG shipping in the Arctic zone and transporting oil from Iran. Let them solve the problem," he added.
Novatek operates Yamal LNG, a liquefied natural gas project located in northern Russia at the Yuzhno-Tambeyskoye gas field. In order to carry the gas from there through the ice-covered Arctic Ocean, the company employs a fleet of special ice-going tankers; most shipping operations take place within Russia's territorial waters.
Yamal LNG is leasing six such vessels from CLNG, a joint venture between Canada's largest marine shipping company, Teekay, and a major Chinese state-owned shipping company, COSCO.
Last week, the United States slapped sanctions on two COSCO subsidiaries, alleging that they were transporting Iranian crude to China in breach of US sanctions against Tehran. COSCO Dalian, one of the two targeted subsidiaries, is a direct 50-percent shareholder of CLNG; Yamal LNG, in turn, is a joint venture, equally split between CLNG and Teekay.
Although neither CLNG nor Yamal were directly targeted by the new sanctions, they both currently qualify as a “Blocked Person” under the sanctions, Teekay said in a statement on Monday.
"Management has been advised by CLNG that it is actively engaged in seeking a prompt resolution to this issue," the statement read.