By YURIY HUMBER, TSUYOSHI INAJIMA and ELENA MAZNEVA
MOSCOW -- OAO Gazprom, Russias gas exporter, faces at
least a years delay in starting shipments from its
liquefied natural gas plant in Vladivostok, according to
three people with knowledge of the matter.
The LNG facility, which the state-run company has said will
begin output in 2018, may start in 2019 or 2020, said the
people, asking not to be identified because the information
is confidential. There are delays in sourcing the gas for the
10 million-tpy liquefaction capacity, they said.
The company hasnt changed its plan to begin production
at Vladivostok in 2018, a Gazprom official said by telephone
from Moscow, asking not to be identified citing internal policy
in Russias Far East
is a day away by ship from the worlds biggest LNG
importer, Japan, which has several supply contracts due for
renewal from 2018, one of the people said. Japan has the
option to renew with current suppliers Qatar, Australia and
Malaysia among others or buy from emerging LNG facilities
Mozambique, the US, and Russia.
This month the US gave approval to Sempra Energy to sell 1.7
billion cubic feet of gas abroad. Sempras LNG facility
is the sixth seeking to export the fuel to countries that
dont have free-trade agreements with the US, such as
Osaka Gas Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co., utilities serving
central and western Japan, said theyll invest $600
million each for half the equity in the first unit of
Freeport LNG's plant in Texas.
The Asian nation is increasing LNG imports after the
Fukushima nuclear disaster forced the shutdown of atomic
plants and increased reliance on gas-fired generators.
Japans trade deficit widened to a record last month on
rising import costs.
The Vladivostok project
will help Gazprom offset
its sales to Europe
by attracting more Asian
buyers. A group of Japanese companies led by trader Itochu
Corp. agreed with the Russian exporter in 2011 to study the
feasibility of the project.
One of the gas fields that may supply the LNG plant was found
to have a large oil layer on top, which may need to be pumped
out before gas extraction begins, one of the people said.
Drilling at the Yuzhno-Kirinskoe field continues and a
clearer plan for its development wont emerge before the
end of the year, the person said.
Delays in starting LNG production would increase costs, while
Japanese buyers are asking for discounts since this will be a
new facility, two of the people said. The project is still
attractive to Japanese purchasers, who want to diversify
their supply sources, the people said.
About 10 companies are in talks with Gazprom about investing
in the gas extraction or the LNG production part of the
, one of the people said.
, China and some Southeast
Asian countries could also be buyers of LNG from Vladivostok,
the person said.