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Novatek aims topple Qatar from LNG top spot

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Reuters are reporting that Russian gas producer Novatek aims to topple Qatar as the world's biggest exporter of LNG as it gets closer to completing its first LNG project.

The country's largest non-state gas producer is expected to start exporting LNG from the first phase of the Yamal project, situated far above the Arctic circle, towards the end of this year and may bring forward its final stage by six months.

But it is the inception of Novatek's second, and Russia's third, large-scale LNG project called Arctic LNG 2 that would transform the company into a top global producer within a decade.

Russia's energy industry has been hamstrung by European and US sanctions over its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, with Europeans particularly sensitive to any potential Russian gas supply cuts in retaliation for political tensions in the region.

In terms of LNG, Qatar is by far the largest exporter, selling 77.2 million t of the liquefied gas and accounting for just under 30% of market share in 2016.

Russia that year was seventh with exports of 10.8 million t and a 4% market share. The Yamal project, once all stages are complete, will export an additional 16.5 million t, which would put Russia, already the world's largest crude oil exporter, in third place just below Australia.

The second phase of the Yamal project would be ready in the second half of next year while the third could be completed by the first half of 2019, rather than the second, as all facilities were expected to be delivered this year.

Production from the two projects on the Yamal and neighbouring Gydan peninsula could produce more than 70 million t annually – within spitting distance of Qatar's exports.

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