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The new law will allow Russian producers to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), although Gazprom will keep its export monopoly on gas carried through pipelines.
Domestic gas producers have been posing a growing threat to Gazprom’s traditional dominance in recent years as they expand their operations inside Russia and push ahead with LNG export plans.
The legislation was passed by the upper house of the Russian Parliament last week and has now been signed by President Putin.
The primary beneficiaries are expected to be independent gas producer Novatek and state-owned oil giant Rosneft, both of which have plans to develop LNG facilities that are likely to be tailored towards serving the growing Asian energy market.
Novatek is in partnership with China’s CNPC and France’s Total in a $20 billion LNG project in the Arctic Yamal peninsula.
Rosneft has plans to build an LNG terminal in Russia’s Far East.
The only working LNG plant in Russia is located on Sakhalin, an island off the eastern coast, and is owned by a Gazprom-led consortium that also includes Anglo-Dutch major Shell.
Putin had earlier urged Russian companies to develop production of seaborne LNG and increase their global reach to diversify gas supplies away from Europe and towards Asia.