TOKYO (Thomson Financial) - Russian gas giant Gazprom said Friday it was 'working hard' to start gas supplies for Japanese firms from its major Sakhalin-2 project amid a report of a delay.
'Although the supplies contracts were signed before we joined the project, we are working hard to provide LNG (liquid natural gas) supplies as agreed in the contracts,' Gazprom's deputy board chairman Alexander Annenkov told a press conference in Tokyo.
He declined to give a specific date.
He is visiting Japan to woo potential investors and engineering and chemical firms to take part in a massive pipeline project, which would develop and link gas field across Russia, especially in Siberia.
Gazprom is the majority shareholder in the consortium developing the Sakhalin-2 reserves.
It took charge this year after the other partners in the project -- British-Dutch energy major Shell and Japanese trading houses Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corp (other-otc: MSBHY.PK - news - people ) -- agreed to sell shares under pressure from the Kremlin.
Japan would be the key customer of Sakhalin-2 as Asia's largest economy has virtually no natural energy resources of its own.
But there have been fears of delay because of disputes last year between the consortium and the Russian government before Gazprom's entry.
Alexander Khoroshavin, governor of Russia's Sakhalin island north of Japan, was quoted as saying on Friday by Interfax news agency that the project will miss the 2008 planned start date.
'The initial projects of Sakhalin-2 foresaw LNG deliveries in 2008, but the company has encountered certain difficulties in the pipeline construction,' Khoroshavin said.
'The delay means the deliveries will not begin in 2008' and can only start in the spring of 2009, he said.
Khoroshavin said the problems affect the 800-kilometer (500-mile) pipeline meant to take gas from the north-east of Sakhalin island to a port in the south, where the LNG is then exported by ship to Japan.COPYRIGHT
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