Russia advances LNG race with multibillion-dollar Arctic project

Updated 05 September 2019

Russia advances LNG race with multibillion-dollar Arctic project

  • Novatek poised to become a global LNG leader as it seeks to rival Qatar in production of the super-chilled fuel

VLADIVOSTOK: The $21 billion Arctic liquefied natural gas (LNG)-2 project led by Russian private gas producer Novatek won a green light, the latest in a raft of new projects aimed at meeting a likely doubling of LNG demand over the next
15 years.

Arctic LNG-2 is expected to launch in 2023 and will aim to export 80 percent of its LNG to Asia, Novatek Chief Executive Leonid Mikhelson, Russia’s richest businessman according to Forbes magazine, said after the project’s partners signed a final investment decision (FID) at an economic forum.

At nearly 20 million tons per annum (mmpta) of LNG it would be largest single project to reach FID, according to Wood Mackenzie, and take total LNG volumes sanctioned this year to about 63 mtpa, beating the previous record of 45 mmtpa in 2005.

Arctic LNG-2 will be the third LNG project for Novatek, which hopes to match Qatar in production of the super-chilled fuel.

“Novatek is clearly driving home their ambitions to be a global LNG power house,” said Chong Zhi Xin, associate director of gas, power and energy at IHS Markit.

“It adds another 12 million tons to their portfolio on an equity basis. They are emerging as one of the largest LNG suppliers in
the market.”

The project’s equity partners include French energy producer Total, China’s National Petroleum Corp, CNOOC and the Japan Arctic LNG consortium, made up of Mitsui & Co. and state-owned JOGMEC, formally known as Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp.

“This is an important project for Russia and follows our strategy to create capacities for LNG production,” Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said, adding that investments in the project had been set at $21 billion.

Japanese Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said the project is one of the largest in the history of Japanese-Russian relations.

“It will unite Japan and Russia even more, as well as Europe and Asia. The Japanese
government will provide all necessary assistance for the realization of this project,” he said.

The Arctic LNG-2 project will include construction of three LNG trains with a capacity of 6.6 million tons per annum (mtpa) of LNG each and at least 1.6 mtpa of gas condensate, according to Novatek’s website.

Located on the Gydan peninsula in Russia, the project is expected to export its first LNG by 2023 with the second and third train to start up by 2024 and 2026, Total said in a statement.

It will help Russia reach its goal of producing 120 to 130 million tons of LNG a year in the coming years and raise its share in the global LNG market to up to
20 percent.

It follows FIDs announced from Canada, the US and Mozambique over the past year and plans to target Asian demand driven by major economies shifting toward greener fuel to combat pollution.

The project will benefit from extremely low cost gas, helping it compete against LNG from the US and Canada, said Wood Mackenzie analyst Nicholas Browne.

LNG from the project will also be delivered to international markets by a fleet of ice-class LNG carriers that will be able to use the shorter Northern Sea Route and the trans-shipment terminal in Kamchatka for cargoes destined for Asia and the trans-shipment terminal close to Murmansk for cargoes destined for Europe, Total said.

“Arctic LNG 2 adds to our growing portfolio of
competitive LNG developments based on giant low cost resources primarily intended for the fast growing Asian markets,” Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanné said in the statement.

The increase in supply from Russia and more intense
competition may push down LNG prices and help move Asia toward a more gas-based economy, said IHS Markit’s Chong. 


Higher impairment charges hit UAE banks Emirates NBD and ADCB

Updated 27 January 2020

Higher impairment charges hit UAE banks Emirates NBD and ADCB

DUBAI: Dubai's biggest lender Emirates NBD reported a 15 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings on Monday, below analysts' forecasts, on a jump in impairment charges, sending its shares down around 1 percent.

The bank booked impairment charges of 2.06 billion dirhams ($560.88 million) in the quarter, up more than three times from a year earlier due to higher bad debt charges as it consolidated results of newly acquired Turkish lender DenizBank.

Even without DenizBank, impairment charges were up 78 percent on lower writebacks and recoveries. The bank did not give details of these charges.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are bracing for more writedowns from the real sector amid a downturn, especially in the Dubai property market.

Fitch Ratings recently warned a weakening property market in the UAE was likely to put more pressure on the asset quality of the banking sector.

Emirates NBD reported a net profit of 2.02 billion dirhams in the fourth-quarter, down from 2.39 billion dirhams in the same period a year earlier. EFG Securities had projected a net profit of 2.45 billion dirhams.

Full year profit, however, surged 44 percent, underpinned by double-digit growth in net interest income, stronger loan growth and gains from the listing of the bank's unit Network International.

Separately, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, the UAE's third-biggest bank, also reported a 16 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit on Monday, hurt by an increase in impairment charges.

Emirates NBD said it expected the Expo 2020 world fair to support multiple sectors in Dubai, but a softening real estate market remained a risk for 2020.