Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom, Russia’s natural-gas export monopoly, joined smaller producer OAO Novatek in testing an Arctic Sea route to Asia as the country seeks to increase supplies of liquefied natural gas.
Gazprom and OAO Sovcomflot, the country’s biggest shipper, will soon arrange test cargoes along the Northern Sea Route, the Moscow-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
Russia is developing the transportation corridor as it plans to produce and ship LNG, oil and gas condensate to markets beyond the reach of Gazprom’s pipeline network. The northern waters may become a viable route as global warming allows for a longer navigation period.
“LNG production is an absolute priority compared with supplies by pipeline to Asia-Pacific export markets,” Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexey Miller said in the statement.
Novatek has said the Arctic route is more profitable and faster than shipping via the Suez Canal after sending test cargoes of oil-like gas condensate to Asia along the same route during the past two years.
Gazprom and Novatek last week agreed to consider boosting LNG production capacity in the Arctic Yamal region as part of proposals that may also include development of new fields. Novatek plans to build an LNG plant on Yamal, with the targeted start of supplies in 2016.
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