* Sechin heads to Japan to discuss Russian offshore oil, gas
* Rosneft offered to increase oil supplies to China
MOSCOW Feb 19 Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's
top crude producer Rosneft, will discuss offshore
projects with Japanese companies in the final leg of a trip
aimed at luring energy-hungry Asian firms into tapping Russia's
vast Arctic resources.
Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin,
is due to arrive in Japan on Tuesday after a two-day visit to
China, Rosneft's press service told Reuters.
Russia, the world's top crude producer, will need hundreds
of billions of dollars to unlock the potential of the Arctic. It
has been seeking partnership with overseas companies for
expertise and finance and has already signed deals with Exxon
Mobil, Statoil and Eni.
"Sechin is going today to discuss large-scale Rosneft
offshore projects with Japanese companies," a Rosneft
Putin has made a so-called "eastern vector" of energy
development a priority and has urged Russian companies to forge
closer ties with Asian consumers.
Russian firms, including top gas producer Gazprom,
have been losing market share in Europe, a traditional export
market for Russian energy, as the European Union seeks to
diversify sources of oil and gas supply.
Last week, industry sources told Reuters that Rosneft was
seeking to borrow from Chinese state firm CNPC in exchange for
possibly doubling oil supplies, which would make Beijing the
largest consumer of Russian oil and divert supplies away from
Rosneft, however, said it was not in talks about obtaining a
loan from China.
In China, the world's top energy consumer, Sechin offered to
increase oil supplies and proposed that Chinese firms take part
in an ambitious project to develop offshore oil and gas,
estimated at 100 billion tonnes of oil equivalent in Russia.
Only Rosneft and Gazprom, both state-owned, have exclusive
access to Russian undersea mineral resources.
LARGEST LNG CONSUMER
Japan is the world's largest consumer of liquefied natural
gas (LNG) and has increased consumption, shipped in by tankers,
after the disaster at its Fukushima nuclear plant in March 2011.
Rosneft may also chip in to feed Japan with frozen gas,
albeit in the more distant future, as it mulls possibly building
its own LNG plant on the Pacific island of Sakhalin, where it
already pumps oil in partnership with the U.S. major ExxonMobil
and Japan's Sodeco.
Sources at Rosneft told Reuters the plant might potentially
produce up to 10 million tonnes of LNG a year - the same amount
as a Shell -led plant, also in Sakhalin, Russia's only
active LNG project.