Moscow - President Vladimir Putin on Friday launched the first loading of liquefied natural gas at the Novatek-led Yamal LNG project in the Arctic, which will further expand Russia’s global energy reach. The Yamal project, which required investments of $27 billion, will allow Russia to fulfil a plan to double its share of the global LNG market by 2020 from around 4% now.
The LNG was loaded onto the ice class tanker “Christophe de Margerie”, named after the former head of France’s energy major Total, who died in a plane crash in Moscow in 2014. Total holds a 20% stake in Yamal LNG: “The loadings will be carried out all year round... I am confident the second and the third parts of the project will be commissioned ahead of schedule,” Putin said at a ceremony in the remote greenfield site in the heart of the Arctic tundra “Russia can and should get a decent stake in the market,” he told the attendees, who included Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih. Putin has in the past expressed his personal support for Yamal LNG, in which Novatek holds a 50.1% stake. Novatek is owned by Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s richest businessman with wealth estimated by Forbes at $18.4 billion.
Investments in the Yamal project were put at risk after Novatek came under Western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine crisis, but it managed to secure funding from Chinese and Russian banks, as well as from the Russian government.