Russia expects to liberalise LNG exports from Jan 1 -minister

Reuters

* Bill agreed by ministers; soon to be submitted to Duma

* Says expects Gazprom, CNPC to reach agreement by end-2013

By Jane Chung and Meeyoung Cho

DAEGU, South Korea, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Russia expects toliberalize its liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from Jan. 1,and a bill will be submitted to parliament shortly, EnergyMinister Alexander Novak said on Wednesday.

Novak also said Gazprom and China NationalPetroleum Corp (CNPC) are expected to reach an agreement on gassupplies by the end of this year.

President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month thatRussia, the world's biggest energy supplier, would press aheadwith opening up LNG exports in a move to meet growing demandfrom Asia-Pacific markets.

"The work as of today has been finalised ... It has beencoordinated and agreed by all the ministries of the cabinets,and in the near future it is going to be submitted to the StateDuma, the parliament of the Russian Federation," Novak toldreporters in a briefing during the World Energy Congress, inSouth Korea.

"We expect the law to take effect since the first of Januarynext year."

Putin has said Russia is keen to expand in the region, wheregas demand is driven by China, which expects to consume up to230 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas by 2015.

Removing restrictions on LNG exports would be a big blow tostate-controlled Gazprom, which holds a monopoly on Russia's gasexports.

The prospect of an end to that monopoly has injected urgencyinto its talks to supply China with pipeline gas, which havegone on for more than a decade.

Last month, the two sides reached agreement on basic termsfor a deal but not on price, which has been an issue for yearsas China demands a steep discount to prices paid by Westernutilities.

Asked about a Gazprom deal to supply gas to China, Novaksaid: "We really expect Gazprom and CNPC to reach agreement bythe end of this year."

Russian gas producer Novatek and top oil producerRosneft have both lobbied for LNG export rights.Rosneft has agreed with ExxonMobil to build an LNG plantin the Russian Far East at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

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