Total's CEO To Visit Russia's Yamal LNG Project


PARIS, April 8 (Reuters) - Total's chief executive will travel this week to northwest Siberia to visit Russia's showcase $27 billion Yamal gas project in which the French oil major owns a 20 percent stake, a Total spokeswoman said.

It is Patrick Pouyanné's first visit to the facilities - slated to supply 16.5 million tonnes per year of liquefied natural gas early next decade - a sign Total still regards Russia as an important source of future production growth.

Russia's top independent oil and gas producer Novatek owns 60 percent of the project, which is trying to complete financing as sanctions against Russia have frozen US dollar funding due to the Kremlin's role in the Ukraine crisis.

Novatek is subject to some of the most severe U.S. and EU sanctions and its billionaire co-owner Gennady Timchenko was added to the U.S. sanctions list in March last year.

While dozens of Russian energy ventures are in jeopardy due to the sanctions, the Kremlin is bent on saving Yamal no matter what. If it stays on track, it will also show the West that the world's largest energy industry is not cracking under sanctions.

Total, Novatek and Chinese partner CNPC, which also owns 20 percent in Yamal LNG, are looking for euro, rouble and renminbi funding for the Siberian project, whose construction work is about a quarter complete.

Last year, Total said it expected the biggest share of its oil and gas output to come from Russia by 2020 and planned to stay there for the long haul despite the tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

(Reporting by Michel Rose and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow; editing by Susan Thomas)


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