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Russia's Putin offers more tax incentives for Yamal LNG

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 | 2:41 AM ET

* Russia to open up liquefied natural gas exports

* Putin urges domestic companies to develop LNG business

MOSCOW, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to expand tax breaks to more deposits that will supply gas for the Novatek-led liquefied natural gas project in Russia's Yamal peninsula, according to the Kremlin's web site.

Putin has urged domestic companies to develop seaborne liquefied natural gas (LNG) and diversify away from cash-strapped Europe where demand for gas has weakened.

The $20 billion Yamal LNG project, where France's Total and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) also have stakes, enjoys some tax breaks, such as zero mineral extraction tax and export duty from the Yamal fields.

Putin has ordered tax breaks for the fields from the neighbouring Gydan peninsula in the Arctic, where Novatek also has exploration licences, according to documents posted at the Kremlin web site.

"The news of the potential extension of the tax incentives is welcome," Sberbank CIB analysts said in a note.

"Novatek's Salmanovsky and Geofizichesky fields in Gydan, right across the narrow Ob Bay from (Yamal's) South Tambey, have resources to be producing up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas and 1.2 million tonnes of condensate as soon as 2020, with output potentially starting in 2017."

Russia's only LNG plant, with annual capacity of 10 million tonnes, is located in the Russian far eastern island of Sakhalin and is operated by a Gazprom-led consortium, which includes Anglo-Dutch major Royal Dutch Shell.

The government is working on amendments to the law to liberalise LNG exports - so far exclusively handled by state-controlled Gazprom - with a view to implementing the new regulations from Jan. 1, 2014.

The exports liberalisation is crucial for Yamal LNG, which is slated to produce 16.5 million tonnes of the frozen seaborne gas in 2018.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Mark Potter)