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02/18/2009 |


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      : $4.001; $4.037(l)


      5 2


      Sakhalin 2 project starts Russia's first LNG plant

      Prigorodnoye, Russia (Platts)--18Feb2009

      Sakhalin Energy, the Gazprom-led consortium developing the Sakhalin 2
      project in Russia's Far East, Wednesday started up Russia's first LNG
      liquefaction plant, which at full capacity will account for some 5% of global
      LNG supplies.

      In a ceremony attended by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Japanese
      Prime Minister Taro Aso and other dignitaries, Sakhalin Energy inaugurated the
      first 4.8 million mt/year train for the 9.6 million mt/year LNG plant on the
      southern tip of Sakhalin Island.

      The other 4.8 million mt/year train is to be commissioned some time in
      the first half of this year.

      Speaking at the event, Medvedev said the project was of great strategic
      importance to Russia and other countries, and would account for up to 5% of
      global LNG supplies once the plant reaches full capacity in 2010.
      "This strengthens Russia's position as a major player on the energy
      market. And we will not hide the fact that we are very pleased with this," he
      Aso said the project would help diversify suppliers in the Asia-Pacific
      region and further strengthen relations with Russia.
      Supplies from Sakhalin 2 will make up some 7% of Japan's annual LNG
      imports, he said.

      "To have [an LNG plant] in such proximity has been Japan's dream of many
      years," he said. "Russia is becoming a constructive partner in the
      Asia-Pacific region."

      Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi hold 12.5% and 10% stakes in
      Sakhalin Energy, respectively.

      Gazprom holds a 50% plus one share stake in Sakhalin 2 following a major
      government-orchestrated reshuffle of shareholdings in the project in late
      2006. Former operator Shell now holds 27.5%.

      Heads of all the four companies were present at the ceremony at the LNG
      plant site. "This is really a huge project," Shell CEO Jeroen van der Veer

      Located in the southern part of Sakhalin Island, on the shores of almost
      ice-free Aniva Bay, the LNG plant will receive some 13.8 billion cubic
      meters/year of gas mainly from the Lunskoye field, one of the two offshore
      fields being developed by Sakhalin Energy.

      About 50 tankers with a capacity of 145,000 cu m each will be loaded this
      year, Sakhalin Energy CEO Ian Craig said on the eve of the plant's

      Based on that figure, the volume carried by the tankers is expected to
      total about 3.2 million mt this year, which is less than the 6 million mt
      figure provided by the Russian energy ministry earlier this month.

      About 160 tankers are expected to be loaded each year when the plant
      reaches its 9.6 million mt/year capacity next year.

      "Two tankers will be shipped every five days," Gazprom deputy CEO
      Alexander Medvedev said at a briefing in the town of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk later
      in the day.


      The first LNG shipment is scheduled for the end of March, officials close
      to the matter told Platts Wednesday, confirming previous expectations.
      Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev declined to specify the dates, only
      confirming that the first cargo is expected next month.

      "Production processes for the first tanker will take a little more time
      than [will be] usual at full capacity," he said.

      The commissioning of the LNG plant and the delivery of the first cargo
      has been repeatedly postponed.

      But the latest delay of the first LNG shipment until the end of March is
      unlikely to have a significant impact on Japanese power and gas utility
      customers and their fuel procurement due to lower demand from the economic
      Gazprom Marketing & Trading, the London-based arm of Gazprom, supplied
      cargoes to some contract customers, while others chose to be paid compensation
      for the delays, sources previously said.

      All output from the first two trains at the site is already contracted
      for long-term export, with up to 65% of the LNG to go to Japanese customers
      and the remainder to South Korea and the US West Coast.

      Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Company and Tokyo Gas have agreed to share
      the maiden LNG cargo from Sakhalin 2, officials, who asked not to be named,
      said Wednesday.

      Speaking ahead of the inauguration ceremony of the LNG plant, they said
      that Tepco and Tokyo Gas had agreed to share equally the first cargo on a
      145,000 cu m vessel.

      It was not immediately clear at which LNG terminals in Tokyo Bay Tepco
      and Tokyo Gas would accept the first cargo, they said.
      The Sakhalin 2 LNG project has "a very favorable payback period" even
      amid the current economic slowdown and low oil and gas prices, Gazprom's
      Medvedev said.

      "This is not a surprise, because when the project was started the global
      oil price was below $25/barrel," Medvedev said, referring to the start of the
      project development in the 1990s.

      He declined to reveal total investments in the LNG plant, citing
      confidentiality agreements between the Sakhalin 2 shareholders.
      Van der Veer, meanwhile, said the current economic climate was a good
      time to develop new projects.

      "In the current economic crisis, in my opinion, the best thing to do is
      not to get too gloomy, but simply to see [if] we can develop more new
      projects," der Veer said. "I am very optimistic."

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