FACTBOX-Gazprom rivals hope for LNG rights, vie for Asia market
MOSCOW, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The head of Russia's Rosneft is in China partly for talks on a potential partnership in liquefied natural gas as the state oil company seeks to challenge gas export monopoly Gazprom for a share of the Asian market.
Rosneft and ExxonMobil, its partner in offshore exploration projects, have joined a queue of foreign and domestic producers who stand to benefit if President Vladimir Putin agrees to let them export LNG.
The government, under orders from Putin, must now come up with a plan to let them export natural gas without creating competition for Gazprom.
Russia is the world's largest producer of conventional gas but has only one operating LNG plant, the 10 million tonne per year liquefaction plant operated by a Gazprom-led consortium that includes Royal Dutch Shell and Mitsui .
While competitors have announced one new project after another, and the United States issues permits to allow exports of booming gas output from shale, Gazprom's prospects for developing LNG have dimmed and left rivals in the lead.
Below are details of plans to expand Russia's LNG output:
SAKHALIN-1 - The ExxonMobil-led consortium operating four offshore fields in the Sea of Okhotsk has resisted selling its gas to Gazprom for export. It has 485 billion cubic metres of potential recoverable reserves.
Prompted in part by the prospect of liberalised LNG exports, Exxon and consortium partner Rosneft, headed by Igor Sechin, have agreed to study the possibility of an LNG plant on Sakhalin Island near the fields or at the mainland export terminal, De Kastri.
SAKHALIN-2 - Russia's only active LNG project is producing 10 million tonnes per year on two production lines, known as trains. The output is sold under contract to Asian buyers. Shell and Mitsui are keen to expand to 15 million tonnes, but have failed to persuade Gazprom.
There is a question mark over the source of feedstock for an expanded Sakhalin-2 plant. Sakhalin-1 gas would likely be ruled out if the consortium built its own plant. Gazprom says additional exploration is needed to ensure supplies.
YAMAL LNG - Russia's Novatek and French company Total aim to launch the first 5 million tonne line in 2016 to liquefy gas from the 418 billion cubic metre (bcm) South Tambei field on the Arctic Yamal Peninsula, then raise capacity to 15 million tonnes by 2018. The LNG would travel through Arctic seas to customers in Asia.
But a final investment decision is two months overdue and analysts say the project is unlikely to win financing if it has to sell gas through Gazprom Export because the Yamal partners would not control the cash flows from the sales.
GAZPROM-NOVATEK JOINT VENTURE - Gazprom and its largest Russian rival agreed to build additional LNG capacity near Yamal LNG which would bring total capacity on the Arctic peninsula to more than 30 million tonnes per year.
VLADIVOSTOK - The lynchpin of Gazprom's developing Asia strategy, Vladivostok LNG would liquefy gas from fields in East Siberia at a new plant at the Pacific port with a capacity of 10-20 million tonnes per year.
Putin has ordered Gazprom to press ahead with the so-called Eastern Programme, expected to cost some $40 billion, to develop the fields and build a pipeline and plant.
A feasibility study for the plant was completed with Japan's Itochu Group. Gazprom wants to launch it by 2020.
PECHORA LNG - Headed by Maxim Barsky, a former top executive at Russian oil company TNK-BP, this project on the coast of the Barents Sea is to produce 2.6 million tonnes per year of LNG, fed by two fields in Timan-Pechora oil province.
Gazprom has been in talks for a role at Pechora LNG and the RusEnergy website reported China's CNOOC is a potential partner.
SHTOKMAN - Gazprom sees 2030 as the potential launch date for the 3.9 trillion cubic metre Barents Sea field after the breakdown of a partnership with Total and Norway's Statoil . It had aimed to sell 7.5 million tonnes per year of LNG from 2017.
(Reporting by Melissa Akin; Editing by Anthony Barker)