UPDATE 1-Russia's Gazprom accelerates Sakhalin-3 project

Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:41pm BST

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* Output at Kirinsky field to start 2011/12

* Start originally planned for 2014

* Gazprom has signed agreement to supply China's CNPC

(Adds quotes, background)

MURMANSK, Russia, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM), plans to start production at the Sakhalin-3 project's Kirinsky field in 2011 or 2012, two years earlier than planned, as it seeks to fill its pipeline to the Pacific port Vladivostok.

"It had been planned that development of Kirinsky will start in 2014. We think to begin production there at the end of 2011 or at the beginning of 2012," the head of Gazprom's subsidiary that oversees offshore projects, Alexander Mandel, told reporters on Friday.

The Kirinsky field is a part of the Sakhalin-3 offshore project on Russia's Pacific island of the same name. Its gas reserves are estimated at 75.4 billion cubic metres.

Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer, has been slow in entering projects on Sakhalin, where its rival, state-run Rosneft (ROSN.MM), Russia's largest oil firm, has long been the key player.

The situation changed last year, when Gazprom bought control in the giant Sakhalin-2 oil and liquefied natural gas project from Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L). It said it would aim to gain more reserves in the region.

This week, Gazprom (GAZP.MM) signed a preliminary agreement to supply China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) with about 70 billion cubic metres of gas. [ID:nPEK311780]

Gazprom is still in talks with ExxonMobil Corp (XOM.N), operator of Sakhalin-1 project, as it needs gas to fill the major trunk pipeline that links offshore gas fields of Sakhalin with the port of Vladivostok. (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk, writing by Vladimir Soldatkin, editing by Anthony Barker)

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