Qatar Mulls Stake In Russia's Novatek, Yamal

DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones), Nov. 15, 2011

Gas-rich Qatar is interested in buying a stake in Russia's biggest independent gas producer Novatek as well the company's Yamal liquefied natural gas project, the Gulf Arab state's oil minister said Tuesday.

Asked whether Qatar would be interested in acquiring a stake in Novatek and the Yamal LNG development, Mohammed Al Sada said: "the answer is yes."

"We are interested in both, in Yamal as well as Novatek, and we are engaged in the discussion on these two projects at the same time," Al Sada said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Doha. He didn't provide any further details.

Novatek shares rose 3% to 415 rubles in the immediate aftermath of the news about Qatar's interest in the firm.

Novatek has gained popularity with investors recently, as it has grabbed market share from state-owned Gazprom and won political
support through ties to oil trader Gennady Timchenko, co-founder of Gunvor International BV.

Timchenko--a longtime acquaintance of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin--last year raised his Novatek stake to 23%. His investment has added momentum to Novatek's Yamal LNG project, in contrast to Gazprom's Shtokman LNG project in the Arctic, which has shown signs of trouble.

French energy major Total bought a 12% stake in Novatek in March, and plans to raise its holding to 19.4% within three years. When the deal was announced, Total also agreed to buy a 20% stake in Yamal LNG, in which Novatek holds 51%. Novatek plans to start LNG
production in 2016 and eventually reach production of 15 million tons a year.

Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie said last week he hoped Qatar will become a partner in Yamal LNG.

Qatar's oil minister said Monday the Gulf state had entered discussions with the project partners in Yamal.

Qatar is the largest LNG exporter in the world, and is nearing its full production capacity of 77 million tons a year. LNG is natural gas
cooled down so it becomes liquid and can be transported on specially-designed tankers.

Novatek declined to comment.

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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