Qatar, one of Russia's key rivals on global gas markets, may buy a stake in Russia's largest independent gas producer Novatek and join its project for liquefied natural gas production on the Yamal Peninsula in the Arctic, Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday.
"We are interested in purchasing a stake in Novatek and are simultaneously holding negotiations on the Yamal LNG project," Qatari Energy Minister Mohammed Saleh al-Sada said on the sidelines of a gas exporters' summit which concluded its work in the Qatari capital on Tuesday.
The minister also said that Qatar, the world's largest LNG producer and exporter, had established Qatar Petroleum International for these purposes.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said that Russia could cooperate with Qatari companies at all the stages of the Yamal-LNG project, including its financing.
Qatar may be engaged in the project's financial and technical aspects and help in LNG marketing, Shmatko said.
Russia can also capitalize on the experience of Qatari companies in LNG logistics, including the use of Qatar's LNG shipping fleet, Shmatko said, adding that the negotiations had already moved to the corporate level and the state would take efforts to expedite them.
Novatek confirmed to Kommersant that it was holding talks with Qatari firms on their possible participation in the Yamal LNG project. At the same time, the gas producer said no talks had been held on selling a stake in Novatek's capital to Qatari companies.
The Yamal-LNG project, implemented by Novatek and France's Total, to produce LNG on the Yamal Peninsula in the Russian Arctic is estimated at $15-20 billion and envisages the development of the giant Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye gas condensate field and the construction of an LNG plant. Novatek also plans to build a sea port in the Sabetta village in Yamal and an ice-class tanker fleet.
The Yuzhno-Tambeiskoye field has estimated reserves of 1.3 trillion meters of gas under the 1+2 categories. Under the international classification, the field's reserves amount to 418 billion cubic meters of gas and 15 million tons of gas condensate.