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MOSCOW Feb 21 Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM)
confirmed on Thursday it would start pipeline gas exports from
its giant Arctic Shtokman gas deposit in 2013 and begin
shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the field in 2014.
Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, Gazprom made the
statement after officially setting up a joint operating company
to develop Shtokman's first phase together with France's Total
(TOTF.PA) and Norway's StatoilHydro (STL.OL).
"This project will serve the purpose of steady and secure
gas supplies to Europe... By 2013 we will send 11 billion cubic
metres a year of gas and in 2014 we will have volumes of 7.5 bcm
a year of LNG," Gazprom's head Alexei Miller said after signing
the agreement at the firm's Moscow headquarters.
The venture, created on Thursday after a two-month delay,
will build and operate infrastructure at the gas deposit, which
could supply Europe and the United States with pipeline gas and
LNG for decades.
It will help Gazprom further increase its role as the
world's largest gas producer and supplier of a quarter of
Gazprom will own 51 percent in the Switzerland-registered
venture, while Total and StatoilHydro will hold 25 percent and
24 percent, respectively.
Gazprom wants to develop Shtokman, one of the world's
biggest gas fields -- with reserves estimated at 3.8 trillion
cubic metres of gas and about 37 million tonnes of gas
condensate -- in four stages.
The first stage is expected to cost $15 billion.
(Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman, Writing by Tanya Mosolova,
editing by Anthony Barker)