Russian gas giants begin to clash in Europe
Russia’s two biggest natural gas producers have previously avoided competing overseas because of Gazprom’s export monopoly but this has changed as Novatek’s produce is increasingly reaching non-Russian markets.
Novatek, Russia’s largest non-state gas producer, is selling LNG to northern Norway, where it is sold on to the European market, which Gazprom has dominated for decades.
And the trend is set to continue.
Novatek’s gas output would increase this year by 10 per cent and liquid hydrocarbons production by 2 per cent, chief executive Leonid Mikhelson said, according to Interfax.
The company is actively developing its vast resource base and expects to boost output between 2020 and 2030 as it is already working on the second and third LNG depots close to the first project.
Novatek had signed contracts for a quarter of the investment needed in its Arctic LNG-2 project, he added.
French oil and gas giant Total may take part in a proposed project to build an LNG terminal in Murmansk, he said.
“We’re increasing gas production by up to 10 per cent taking into account Yamal LNG, with liquids output, including crude and condensate, to grow by around 2 per cent” Mikhelson reportedly said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Novatek reportedly increased its natural gas output to 68.81 billion cubic metres last year, with most of the output earmarked for export.
“Many people think there was a truce between Novatek and Gazprom to not touch the European market, to save the price for Gazprom,” said Jean-Baptiste Dubreuil of the International Energy Agency. “Recently there has been a lot of reloads from Norway, which ended up in some markets in northwest Europe in direct competition with Gazprom.’’
Gazprom is selling record volumes of gas to offset declining domestic production in Europe, through its monopoly on Russian pipeline gas exports.
Prices for LNG in East Asia have been falling, making it more attractive for shippers to export to Europe. Most of the fuel shipped from Novatek’s Yamal plant was sent west to Europe since production started more than a year ago. The giant Yamal depot was originally meant to mainly supply Asian markets.
But Gazprom’s volumes were yet to be impacted by the Arctic PNG, said James Huckstepp of S&P Global Platts. Gazprom has also topped up sales under long-term contracts with volumes sold on electronic platforms.
“Those platform sales have shifted toward those northwestern European markets, which have seen also an uptick of LNG deliveries,” Huckstepp told Bloomberg. “It is definitely an area where there is the most competition between the two sources.”