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U.S. could get first LNG import from Russia despite sanctions

Jan 9 (Reuters) - A vessel that may be carrying liquefied natural gas from Russia's new Yamal LNG export terminal could be heading to the United States despite sanctions against the company that operates the Russian facility, according to Thomson Reuters Interactive Map.

The Chris. De Margerie tanker picked up a cargo from Novatek PAO's Yamal facility, Russia's second LNG export terminal, on Dec. 9 and dropped it off at the Isle of Grain LNG facility near London on Dec. 28, the map showed.

Since then, the Gaselys LNG tanker picked up a load of LNG from the UK facility on Dec. 30 and is expected to arrive in Boston on Jan. 22 to help replenish supplies in the U.S. Northeast reduced by an freeze that blanketed much of the United States for about two weeks after Christmas.

It is possible that some of the LNG on the Gaselys tanker is from Yamal, according to a report by S&P Global Platts.

It is also possible the Gaselys will change its destination away from Boston and the United States, as sometimes occurs with LNG vessels.

If the vessel is carrying Russian LNG and ends up in the United States despite the U.S. sanctions against Novatek, it would be the first ever Russian LNG to go to the United States, according to U.S. energy data.

The U.S. imposed sanctions against Novatek in July 2014 due to Russia's role in the conflict in Ukraine, making it harder for the Russian gas producer to access western financial markets, according to S&P Global.

Novatek is Russia's largest independent gas producer.

Since Yamal entered service in December 2017, three vessels have picked up LNG cargoes, Chris. De Margerie on Dec. 9 and Jan. 8, Boris Vilkitsky on Dec. 9 and Dec. 22, and Fedor Litke on Dec. 29.

The Boris Vilkitsky dropped off its cargo from Dec. 22 at Rotterdam, according to the map. It is uncertain whether the Boris Vilkitsky actually picked up any gas on Dec. 9 since it did not go anywhere after stopping by the port.

The Fedor Litke is heading to the Montoir LNG terminal in France, according to the map. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)