The first shipment from the third line Yamal LNG, which took place yesterday, marked the launch of the Arctic mega-plant at its planned capacity (16.5 million tons) a year ahead of schedule. The event also coincided with the actual first statements of the main shareholder and head of Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson, that the already operating Yamal LNG faced some problems from the outside. “Today we see that Norway, due to our LNG transshipments, has come under pressure from Western partners, so we need to start transshipment in Ura Bay as soon as possible,” said Michelson at a meeting on the development of the Arctic. He did not specify the nature and specific source of pressure.
The transshipment mentioned by Michelson took place on November 26 in the area of the port of Honningsvåg. It allowed almost two times to shorten the route that the ice class tanker had to overcome in order to deliver the delivery from Yamal LNG to Europe. A few days later, a US State Department official in a Reuters comment criticized the transfer of Yamal gas in Norwegian waters. “At a time when Russian gas makes up an increasing share of European energy imports, additional volumes of Russian gas will undermine Europe’s efforts to diversify the energy industry.” The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy stated to Reuters that they are not concerned about the transfer of Yamal gas, and called it a commercial project.
The conditional "Western partners" have already once complicated the life of Yamal LNG. The US sanctions imposed in 2014 against Novatek and Michelson’s partner Gennady Timchenko F 5 significantly complicated the search for debt financing for the project. An acquaintance of Mikhelson told Forbes that the employees of Novatek in personal conversations with representatives of the US State Department allegedly received unequivocal hints: the sanctions were imposed to harm Yamal LNG. There is economic logic in this. At this time shale mining was rapidly developing in the USA. The regasification terminals built in the early 2000s that could receive LNG supplies were rebuilt into liquefaction plants. The United States wanted to be one of the world's largest LNG suppliers. US exports of LNG began almost two years earlier than Novatek and partners in February 2016. The interlocutors of Forbes believe that the topic of the supply of American LNG to Europe still remains highly politicized. And they recall the recently signed 20-year contract for the supply of American LNG to Poland, under which the buyer agreed to incur transportation costs.
However, there is no pressure on Novatek from the United States, I am sure Konstantin Simonov, director of the National Energy Security Foundation, is convinced. “There is no hunt for Yamal LNG from the Americans. The company has European shareholders and a huge number of foreign contractors. Compare Yamal LNG with the situation around Nord Stream 2, where real hysteria is unfolding, ”the expert points out. According to Simonov, today there is no global competition between Russian and American gas. “It is said that in the market everyone is jostling with elbows, but these are rather fears for the future. So far, Yamal LNG has no problems with sales, and Gazprom has none. In the future, competition between American and Russian gas is possible - but that is if we do not believe in the forecasts of the Russian Ministry of Energy, which believes that in the next 15 years, no one’s filled niche for 196 million cubic meters will emerge on the world market. m of gas, "- said Simonov.
RusEnergy partner Mikhail Krutikhin notes that the transshipment in Norway for Yamal LNG was one-time and trial. Novatek partners have long-term transshipment contracts at the port of Rotterdam - the main supplies of Yamal gas go there. “As far as I know, the Norwegians had no real problems. There is no difference in terms of transshipment in Norway or Rotterdam, in terms of diversifying Europe’s energy supply. In addition, Norway is not a member of the EU, ”Krutikhin comments on the statements of the representative of the US State Department.
According to Krutikhin, the statements of Mikhelson should be taken as an attempt to speed up the construction of a transit point in the Murmansk region, where the bay of Ur is located, and to save money at the expense of budget financing. “Although it would be more economical to organize a transshipment in Norway - such calculations have existed since the time of the elaboration of the Shtokman project of Gazprom,” says Krutikhin. Mikhelson is really planning to attract state funding for the construction of a transshipment hub with a capacity of 20 million tons of LNG in Ur Bay. True, it will amount to a little more than 1% of the estimated volume of investments - 900 million rubles from 70.1 billion rubles. Much more can make budget investments in transshipment in Kamchatka, which is also in the plans of Novatek, - 30.3 billion rubles out of 100.2 billion rubles, according to the estimates of Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich.