Rosneft Challenges Gazprom Monopoly to Export Russian Pipeline Gas
MOSCOW, March 7 (Reuters) – Russia's top crude oil producer Rosneft wants to break the monopoly of another state-owned energy champion, Gazprom, to export gas via pipelines, sources said on Friday, signalling a flare-up between powerful clans.
Igor Sechin, a long-standing ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, transformed Rosneft into the world's top publicly traded oil producer through the $50 billion purchase of Anglo-Russian firm TNK-BP last year.
In a sign of Sechin's rising clout, Rosneft and Russia's largest non-state gas producer Novatek have already secured rights to export seaborne liquefied natural gas, reversing a 2006 law that gave Gazprom a monopoly on gas exports.
Gazprom still holds the exclusive rights to ship Russian gas abroad via pipelines, which connect vast Siberian gas fields with European clients. It meets 30 percent of gas demand in the European Union.
Rosneft in particular wants access to Gazprom's Sila Sibiri (Power of Siberia) pipeline designed to carry gas to China at a rate of 38 billion cubic metres a year, sources familiar with the matter said.
Gazprom has yet to sign a final deal with China on the pipeline and has delayed its launch to 2020 from 2018 expected earlier.
"It is unfair that the pipeline is designated only for one company," a source at Rosneft said.
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