June 30 (UPI) -- Russian natural gas company Gazprom expects to sign off on developments to increase its footprint in the Asian market, the company's top executive said.
"Today we're finalizing the discussion of the exact schedule for the launch of supplies via the 'eastern route' in compliance with the contract," Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying. "The plan is to sign the relevant document in nearest days."
The eastern route refers to the so-called Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline. Gazprom has a 30-year sales agreement with China National Petroleum Corp. that calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year through the pipeline.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described the 2,500-mile gas pipeline to China as a way to tie the Russian energy sector to two poles of the economic world. Russia meets about a quarter of the European energy demand, but has at times focused its economic efforts on the expanding economies in Asia.
Gazprom said gas supplies through the Chinese pipeline could start within the next two years.
Additional options for Russia's focus on the Asia-Pacific come from liquefied natural gas. Novatek, the largest private natural gas company in Russia, controls 60 percent of a project on the Yamal Peninsula alongside French energy company Total and the China National Petroleum Corp.
The Yamal LNG project has the capacity to produce about 16.5 million tons of natural gas and exports could target consumers in the Far East. Up to 16 ice-class carriers will be designated to ship LNG year-round to global consumers.