* Putin sees competition from Gulf, Australia
* Gazprom buys pipe for line from Siberian fields to
* Russia's gas ambitions not yet matched by Asian contracts
(Adds more Putin quotes, background on Russia's gas ambitions)
By Denis Dyomkin
CHITA, Russia, July 17 Russia has every chance
of securing a place in the Asian gas market even while
competition there is on the rise, President Vladimir Putin said,
underlining Moscow's shift in energy policy towards Asia.
"We are thinking about entering the promising market in the
Asia-Pacific region. We should find our niche here; we have
every chance of doing that," Putin told journalists on Wednesday
in the far eastern town of Chita.
Putin said there was room for Russia on the Asian market
despite shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Middle
East and new supplies from Australia.
"The Asia-Pacific region is developing rapidly. Its
consumption is growing rapidly, and Russia can play a prominent
role," Putin said during a tour of Russia's Far East and East
Siberia to oversee military exercises and show its energy
The Kremlin sees the energy industry as central to economic
development of Russia's remote eastern region, driving job
growth and construction of infrastructure as state-controlled
companies Rosneft and Gazprom tap new fields
to supply Asia.
Rosneft last month agreed a $270 billion deal to increase
oil supplies to China to nearly a million barrels per day
, but success on the gas front has been slim,
despite repeated pleas from the Kremlin to get an eastern gas
business up and running.
Vedomosti daily reported on Wednesday that Gazprom had
already tendered to buy pipe to build the Power of Siberia
pipeline at an estimated cost of $38 billion, which will carry
gas to Russia's Pacific coast to feed a new liquefaction plant
A Gazprom spokesman declined immediate comment.
Analysts see the pipeline and the development of fields to
feed it, which will add tens of billions of dollars to the
overall cost of bringing eastern gas resources to market, as a
risky venture unless there is a major contract with China to
Gazprom has watched as China, keen to burn more gas and cut
reliance on coal, has agreed to buy gas supplies for years ahead
from its rivals.
Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said last month a deal
could be done by September, but talks with China
have taken place for 15 years so far without producing
agreement, hung up mostly over price.
Gazprom's export chief said in an interview last month that
Miller's remark reflected a wish that "thinking made it so". He
also dismissed news of an apparent accommodation by China, a
prepayment deal to finance the pipeline, saying there was no
agreement on it.
Responding to the delay, the Kremlin has launched a debate
over Gazprom's de facto monopoly right to export LNG, hoping
that independent gas producers might stake out a share of the
Asian market for Russia.
With prospects that independent company Novatek
could gain rights to export LNG, China National Petroleum Corp.
has agreed to buy a stake in Novatek's Yamal LNG plant.
(reporting by Denis Dyomkin; writing by Maya Dyakina and
Melissa Akin; editing by Jane Baird)