Qatar goes cold on Russia's Yamal LNG project

DOHA, March 5 Tue Mar 5, 2013 3:23pm GMT



DOHA, March 5 (Reuters) - Qatar is no longer in negotiations to take a stake in an Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG) project under development by Russian gas producer Novatek , an executive at Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) said on Tuesday.

Qatar's energy minister, Mohammed al-Sada, said in late 2011 the world's leading LNG producer was keen to join the project, which backers Novatek and Total hope will produce super-cooled gas from the Arctic Yamal peninsula by 2016.

But the tiny desert state, which has already grown wealthy from selling LNG out of the world's largest gas field under the warm waters of the Gulf, has gone cold on Yamal.

"At QPI we look at opportunities on a case-by-case basis. Yamal was one of those opportunities," Ahmed Abdulqader al-Ahmed, QPI's executive upstream director, said at an industry event in Doha.

He said QPI had "shelved, but not killed" the idea of taking a stake in Yamal but declined to elaborate.

The project to develop the South Tambey field could produce more than 15 million tonnes of LNG per year (mtpa) from 2018, but the Arctic operating environment could make it more costly than Qatar's existing capacity of 77 mtpa.

Novatek has said it plans to retain at least 51 percent of the project but has been looking for partners to help develop it. France's Total owns 20 percent.

A source close to Novatek said last week that a Chinese company may acquire a stake in the project. (Reporting by Regan Doherty in Doha, additional reporting and writing by Daniel Fineren in Dubai; editing by Jane Baird)