Russian largest gas exporter interested in U.S. natural gas pipelines

Russian state-owned gas monopolist Gazprom, the world's largest producer and exporter of natural gas, wants to buy an interest in liquefied natural gas pipelines and terminals in the United States, a top company official said.

Gazprom Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said Tuesday in Houston that, in exchange the Russian company would allow Western energy companies to have a role in developing the Shtokman Field in the Barents Sea.

"Our principle is simple. We want to be involved in all parts of the value chain," Medvedev said in the interview published in Wednesday's editions of the Houston Chronicle. "For access to our strategic reserve base, we want equal access to the downstream and midstream assets."

Only companies that were willing to help Gazprom buy stakes in U.S. pipelines and terminals were put on a short list for the Shtokman project, said Medvedev, who was in Houston as part of a Russia-U.S. energy symposium.

Two U.S. companies, Houston-based ConocoPhillips and San Ramon, California-based Chevron, made the list. Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. did not.

Three non-U.S. companies made the list: France's Total and Norway's Statoil and Norsk Hydro.

A decision is expected in spring 2006.

ConocoPhillips Chairman and CEO James Mulva told conference attendees that without huge increases in imported fuel the United States will face a natural gas crisis in the next two decades.

Medvedev also mentioned Houston-based Cheniere as a potential partner. Cheniere is building the Freeport LNG regasification terminal in Quintana, south of Houston.

Cheniere also has several other LNG terminals planned for the Gulf Coast, including sites in Corpus Christi and Sabine Pass.

Shell is also working with Gazprom on the Sakhalin II LNG project, which will supply liquefied natural gas to markets in Asia and Mexico.


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