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Russian lawmakers give green light to open up LNG exports

MOSCOW, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Russia's lower house of parliament on Friday gave its final backing to amendments opening the way for Gazprom's rivals to export super-cooled gas by tanker to the fast-growing Asian market.

Russia wants to double its share of the global trade in liquefied natural gas (LNG) to 10 percent by 2020, benefiting from Japan's moves to switch away from nuclear power and China's call to curb coal usage.

Changes to the law on gas exports, passed at a third and final reading, would allow Russia's No.2 gas producer Novatek and state oil giant Rosneft to finish projects and compete with Gazprom's existing Sakhalin-2 plant.

Passage of the measure, which still requires upper-house approval and President Vladimir Putin's signature to take effect in January, is critical to locking down up-front sales and project finance for major new projects.