London — Russia's Novatek said Thursday it had agreed a provisional deal with Japan's Saibu Gas to optimize its LNG portfolio through the use of Saibu's 3.5 million mt/year Hibiki LNG import terminal in Japan.
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Novatek operates the 16.5 million mt/year Yamal LNG plant in northern Russia and also plans to take final investment decision on the planned 19.8 million mt/year Arctic LNG-2 plant next year.
Since Yamal LNG started up in December last year, many cargoes have stayed in Europe, but Novatek has signaled that the Asia-Pacific region would be a key market for its LNG.
Under Thursday's memorandum of understanding, Novatek said it had agreed to consider potential cooperation with Saibu "to enter the end-customer market and optimize Novatek's LNG portfolio supplies to the Asia-Pacific region by utilizing the Hibiki terminal."
Saibu started operations at Hibiki LNG in 2014.
Novatek deputy chairman Lev Feodosyev said the Asia-Pacific region was a "priority destination" for Novatek's LNG projects.
"Our ability to use the Hibiki terminal will help diversify our customer base and increase the flexibility of deliveries to the premium LNG markets," Feodosyev said.
Saibu has long-term LNG purchase agreements with Russia's Sakhalin Energy and Malaysia LNG.
Trading partnerships are becoming increasingly popular in LNG markets as global players look to work together to smooth out inefficiencies in the LNG value chain.
In November, Germany's RWE Supply & Trading signed a memorandum of understanding with Tokyo Gas to cooperate over and optimize their LNG sourcing, trading and shipping activities.
And in July this year, Japan's JERA and energy company EDF Trading agreed to merge their short- and medium-term LNG trading and optimization businesses in an attempt to enhance their global portfolio flexibility and risk mitigation capabilities.
--Stuart Elliott, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Alisdair Bowles, email@example.com