Gazprom targets Asian liquefied gas market

Russian energy giant Gazprom plans to become a dominant presence on the liquefied natural gas market by targeting booming demand in Asia, chief executive Alexei Miller told an annual meeting on Friday.

"In the near future, Gazprom will become a major player on the LNG market," the head of the world's largest natural gas company told company shareholders.

In 2011, the state-run firm produced 10.67 million tonnes of LNG at its only current plant off Sakhalin Island in Russia's Far East, saying this figure should grow markedly with a firmer focus on Asian sales.

"The demand for LNG is growing in the traditional markets, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. There is great potential in large new consumers: India and China," he said.

Energy demand is also growing in Singapore, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Bangladesh, he added, saying Gazprom expected to launch a new LNG plant in the Russian Pacific port city of Vladivostok by 2017.

Gazprom plans to build the plant with a Japanese consortium led by trading house Itochu with a reported price tag of about 1.0 trillion yen ($12.45 billion).

The facility will receive natural gas from other parts of Russia and convert it to LNG before shipping it to countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Gazprom share price and sales have flagged because its past focus on European pipeline deliveries has made it susceptible to the eurozone's economic downturn as well as the impact of growing LNG production in the United States.

The firm had hoped to channel a large part of its LNG sales to the US market before North American production of shale gas took off in recent years, lowering global prices and making the one offered by Russia uncompetitive.

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