As the press service of gas monopoly announced on Tuesday evening, Heads of Gazprom and NOVATEK - Alexei Miller and Leonid Michelson “agreed on the basic principles of cooperation and LNG (liquefied natural gas) implementation, which is to increase the attractiveness of the project”. These arrangements will enable the largest shareholder of NOVATEK Gennady Timchenko to acquire a bonus of $ 100 million in addition to those $ 550 million paid to him last year for 51% stake in “Yamal LNG” (Yamal “SPG”). In addition, the framework agreements with Gazprom are going to provide Mr. Michelson with a path to substantive negotiations with potential strategic investors in this project.
By the end of March, Novatek should announce a short list of the foreign companies, which will be negotiated to sell 23.9% stake in Yamal LNG, which is currently in the hands of the Mr. Timchenko’s structures. Novatek has an option to purchase this package for 450 million dollars for further reselling it to a strategic investor Shell (it even made a preliminary study on the project) and Total (Partner of NOVATEK on Termokarstov field) will surely be in the preliminary list, they also negotiated with the world's largest oil company ExxonMobil.
Yamal LNG owns the license for Yuzhno-Tambeyskoye field with reserves of C1 + C2 categories of 1.26 trillion cubic meters of gas and 51.6 million tones of condensate. According to the international audit made by DeGolyer & MacNaughton, on January 1, 2010, the reserves were more modest: according to the classification of SEC - 380 billion cubic meters and 14 million tones of condensate, according to PRMS - 927 billion cubic meters and 37 million tones of condensate. In December 2009, "Rosnedra" quietly extended the license from 2020 until 2045. The control package is now owned by Novatek, 23.9% - by the structures of Gennady Timchenko; while the junior partner of Mr. Timchenko - Peter Kolbin intends to redeem the blocking shareholding (25.1%) from Gazprombank. The deal was considered by the Commission on Foreign Investment under the leadership of Prime Minister of Russia, since the interests of the buyer were represented by offshore companies, and it was approved.
Gazprom refused to comment on delicate cooperation with Novatek on the Yamal project.
As the newspaper "Vremya novostey" reported, according to all production plans of the concern, the development of Tambeysk field group in the North-Eastern extremity of the Yamal Peninsula is to take place in the period of 2025 - 2030. But just before the announcement of the transaction between the structures by Gennady Timchenko and NOVATEK the concern had unexpectedly announced that the LNG project on Yamal was its priority. In August last year Miller and Michelson began to discuss the principles of cooperation already, and in September the prime minister’s instruction appeared. In October last year, Novatek settled early accounts with Gennady Timchenko (although he planned to pay 300 of the 550 million dollars until February 2010). Novatek will pay Mr. Timchenko another $ 100 million under the shares sale contact in case Gazprom and Novatek agree on the basic conditions for the implementation of liquefied natural gas until 30 December 2011. And that is exactly what happened at the last meeting of Miller and Michelson.
According to "Vremya novostey", as it is stated in the latest version of the Yamal program, the involvement of the Tambeysk field Group owned by Gazprom (the North Tambeysk and West Tambeysk fields) is still scheduled for 2026. However, the start of gas production in the South Tambeysk field of NOVATEK has been rescheduled for 2015. In five years they should recover 5 billion cubic meters. But the first two years, gas will be pumped back into the reservoir to increase production of condensate, which can be exported by road and rail. The startup of LNG production is planned for 2017, as early as 2020 the design production rate of 24.3 billion cubic meters of gas and 15 million tons of liquefaction is achieved (this is twice more than Gazprom with Total and Statoil are planning to start producing in the same 2017 in the first phase of developing "Stockman").
One can hardly believe in such a production speed on such a complex resource base, in such a geographical location and lack of infrastructure. Especially when one thinks of the current glut level of the LNG market, of rather pessimistic projections of the world demand and a considerable number of projects for liquefaction, which are in a much more advanced stage (for example, in Qatar, Algeria, Nigeria, which are focused on marketing in the Atlantic basin). But, apparently, the strength of NOVATEK’s commitment towards its shareholder should not be forgotten; as well as one should remember that the participants of Yamal development expect various benefits and financial subsidies from the state.