Russia's Novatek may get funds from the National Wealth Fund for its Yamal LNG project before the year-end, a minister said, as part of government plans to support sanction-hit companies.
Russia's No.2 gas producer, co-owned by an ally of President Vladimir Putin, Gennady Timchenko, was put on the Western sanctions list over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, limiting its ability to raise funds in Western markets.
The government has pledged to support sanctions-hit companies irrespective of their shareholder structure, using National Wealth Fund as one of the options. Under the plan, NWF may buy bonds issued by some of such firms.
The Economy Ministry received Novatek's request for support in the amount of 100 billion to 150 billion roubles ($2.6-3.9 billion) - in line with the figures provided by Finance Ministry on Friday.
"We will give our conclusion on the strategic importance of this project in October and by the end of the year I think we can move toward granting the NWF funds," Deputy Economy Minister Nikolai Podguzov said on Saturday.
Podguzov added that Novatek's bonds that the NWF could buy would likely carry an interest equal to an annual inflation rate plus 1 percentage point and have a maturity of around 20 years.
Novatek leads the $27 billion Yamal LNG project in Russian Arctic, which is expected to more than double Russia's share on the global liquefied natural gas market. France's Total and China's CNPC co-own the project.
"As far as I understand, the project is in a high stage of realisation. There could be a situation when certain financing sources will drop out and might have to be replaced by NWF," Podguzov said on the sidelines of an economic forum in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Russian state development bank VEB along with Gazprombank - both sanctioned by the West - are coordinating fundraising for Yamal LNG on the Russian side.
China Development Bank Corporation is coordinating China financing, earlier estimated by Timchenko at around $20 billion. Vladimir Dmitriev, VEB's chairman, told reporters on Friday that VEB may support Yamal LNG separately as well.