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Russian's lower house backs LNG export law at first reading

MOSCOW, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Russia's lower house of parliament took a first step on Friday towards allowing rivals of state-controlled Gazprom to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), as the world's top energy producing nation stakes a claim to growing Asian markets.

The bill would open the door for Russia's top independent gas firm Novatek and state oil major Rosneft to break Gazprom's monopoly on exports - but only for the supercooled gas shipped by tanker.

The measure passed by an overwhelming majority at the first reading and is expected to clear parliament quickly. Depending on when President Vladimir Putin signs it, the measure may take effect from January.