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Russia Liberalized LNG Exports Move Closer After Putin Orders

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s Energy Ministry may from December be able to grant licenses to export liquefied natural gas, moving closer to breaking OAO Gazprom’s monopoly on shipments of the fuel abroad.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to award the ministry with the licensing rights by Dec. 15, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website dated Oct. 15 and posted on Oct. 18.

Russia, holder of the world’s biggest natural gas reserves, may allow producers other than state-run Gazprom to ship LNG to global markets, with plans to make it a law effective from 2014. LNG from companies including OAO Novatek and OAO Rosneft would help the nation compete with rising supplies from Australia and newcomers such as the U.S. and meet Asian gas demand as consumption stagnates in Europe, Gazprom’s traditional market supplied by pipeline.

“The exact deadlines imply that the law is to be adopted soon,” analysts at VTB Capital in Moscow, led by Dmitry Loukashov, said today in a research note.

Putin also ordered the extension of tax breaks for Yamal fields to Novatek deposits on the neighboring Gydan Peninsula, provided the gas is transported to the planned LNG plant, according to the orders on the Kremlin website.

“We see the potential tax breaks for the Gydan peninsula as a sign that the government expects Novatek to expand its Yamal LNG plant in the longer term,” Alexei Kokin, an analyst at Uralsib in Moscow, said today in a note.

Novatek and partner Total SA plan to start output at their LNG plant on the Yamal Peninsula at the end of 2016.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anna Shiryaevskaya in Moscow at ashiryaevska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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