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Russian media: Foreign shareholders suspend participation in Russian Arctic LNG-2 project

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 25, 2023 12:52 PM 3 min read
A photograph shows the Utrenneye field, the resource base for Novatek's Arctic LNG 2 project, located in the Gydan Peninsula on the Kara Sea shore line in the Arctic circle, some 2500 km from Moscow, Russia, on Nov. 30, 2021. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)
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Companies from China, France, and Japan suspended participation in Russia's Arctic LNG-2 (liquified natural gas) project due to sanctions, Russian state-controlled media Kommersant reported on Dec. 25, citing unnamed Russian government sources.

Russia has hoped to increase its share of the global LNG market from 8% to 20% by 2030, offsetting the economic impact of sanctions on Russian pipeline gas exports.

A key component of Russia's ambitions is the Arctic LNG 2 project, which was set to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2024. Located on the Gydan Peninsula in northern Siberia, Arctic LNG 2 is positioned to export LNG supplies to both Europe and Asia, and the project's intended capacity is 19.6 million metric tons annually.

The project is run by the private company Novatek, Russia's largest producer of LNG, which has a 60% share. The Chinese, French, and Japanese companies that represented the remaining 40% of shares all declared force majeure on the project.

Reuters reported last week that Novatek itself issued force majeure declarations to multiple clients after the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russian LNG in November 2023.

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Businesses may declare force majeure if they cannot supply promised goods or services due to circumstances beyond their control.

According to Kommersant, the withdrawal of foreign financing for the Arctic LNG-2 project would possibly lead to the loss of future LNG contracts, and force Novatek to fully fund the project independently.

The absence of long-term contracts might result in Novatek defaulting on 9.5 billion euros ($10.5 billion) in external financing, Kommersant's sources said.

Reuters said the foreign companies did not respond to requests for comment on the withdrawal or declined to answer.

The EU has not yet sanctioned Russian LNG but is considering imposing further restrictions. While pipeline imports to EU countries dropped sharply after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Europe imported a record volume of LNG in 2023.

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