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Russia's Novatek launches Yamal LNG project, 1st cargo loading set for Friday

Russia's Novatek said Tuesday that the Yamal LNG project has commencedproducing at its first train, with the first cargo scheduled for loading onFriday.

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"The first cargo loading is scheduled on 8 December 2017 at the Sabetta portusing the first Arc7 ice-class LNG tanker named the Christophe de Margerie,"Novatek said in a statement.

The cargo is planned for delivery to China via the Northern Sea Route, asource said earlier.

The project is located on the remote Yamal Peninsula and consists of threetrains, each with nameplate capacity of 5.5 million mt/year of LNG.

The second and third trains are expected for launch in the third quarter of2018 and the first quarter of 2019, respectively, ahead of the initial plan.

"The commencement of LNG production begins a new chapter in our corporatehistory," Novatek CEO Leonid Mikhelson was quoted as saying in the statement."Many contractors and suppliers from Russia and abroad were involved in thisproject...We are grateful to all our partners, contractors and shareholdersfor the joint work on the way to the successful start of this project on timeand on budget according to our FID schedule."

Novatek owns a 51% stake in Yamal LNG and is developing the project withFrance's Total and China's CNPC.

It also plans to build a fourth train, with capacity of 1 million mt/year ofLNG, in order to ensure maximum efficiency for the project and thecorresponding infrastructure in the area. It is also considering buildinganother LNG project, Arctic-2, in the area.

Yamal LNG is the second producing LNG project in Russia. The first one, withinthe Gazprom-led Sakhalin-2 project, has a capacity of 9.6 million mt/year.