Russia's Novatek Starts LNG Ship-to-Ship Operations in Murmansk

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian gas producer Novatek has started ship-to-ship loadings of LNG from its majority-owned Yamal LNG project near the northern port of Murmansk, shifting away from Norway, ship tracking data at Refinitiv Eikon showed on Monday.

The company previously conducted such operations at a terminal at the Norwegian Arctic port of Honningsvag. However, Oslo has faced pressure from the United States to stop Novatek from using a Norwegian port, with Washington arguing that such operations undercut Europe's energy diversification efforts by shoring up its reliance on Russian gas.

Novatek has said it would eventually move the operations away from Norway. It was not immediately clear if it has already stopped those operations in Norway completely.

Novatek unloads the LNG from ice-class tankers, which are more costly to use, onto more conventional gas carriers. According to the data, the tankers Nikolay Yevgenov and Yamal Spirit moored near Murmansk for loadings on Saturday.

A source at the port in northwest Russia said that cargoes were expected to be loaded on the tankers on Tuesday. Novatek did not respond to a request for comment.

Novatek has a 50.1% stake in the Yamal LNG project on the shores of the Yamal peninsular. French energy major Total controls 20%, while Chinese CNPC and Silk Road Fund have 20% and 9.9% respectively.

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