Russian oil and gas company Novatek is looking to increase liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to Japan, the company’s CEO said.

Leonid Mikhelson spoke to Russian media on Thursday, saying that Japan will receive the products of the company’s soon-to-be-completed Arctic-2 LNG project.

Mikhelson said: “The Arctic LNG 2 project envisages that the liquefied natural gas is marketed by partners, [depending on their] share in the project. The Japanese side holds 10% in the project, which amounts to two million tons. They will certainly be delivered to the Japanese market.”

“However, contracts have already been signed to supply to Japan a portion of Novatek’s share as well, and more [potential contracts] are being discussed now,” he added.

Japanese traders Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National (JOGMEC) and energy group Mitsui are part of the Japan Arctic LNG consortium, making up the country’s 10% stake in the project. China National Offshore subsidiary CNOOC, the China National Petroleum Company and French energy trader Total also hold stakes in the project, which is 60% Novatek-owned.

The Arctic-2 LNG project is set to complete its first production train this year, with the first LNG cargo produced by the end of 2023. This initial train is expected to reach full capacity in the first quarter of 2024.

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By GlobalData

Each of the prospective three trains on the project will produce 6.6 million tonnes per year (mtpa) of LNG. The second train will be launched in 2024, with the third set for 2026.

With $21.3bn of investment already in the project, it was reported in 2019 that as much as 50% of Arctic-2’s LNG production would be sold in short-term or spot sales following completion.

The company’s Japanese contracts come at a time of major growth for the company, where it is already set to surpass Russian state oil and gas company Gazprom in gas exports to Europe. Its LNG export uptake powers this at a time when Gazprom cut pipeline gas supplies to Europe