Russia has opened a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in the country’s northern region of Yamal. The first tanker with LNG was launched on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The ice-breaking tanker is named after the former CEO of Total Christophe de Margerie who died in a plane crash in Russia. The tanker can carry up to 173,000 cubic meters of LNG. Russia plans to build 15 tankers as big as the ‘Christophe de Margerie‘.

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“Russia must accelerate work on development capacity to produce liquefied natural gas,” Putin said at the ceremony.

The controlling stake in the enterprise belongs to Russian energy major Novatek. Twenty percent each is owned by Total, and China’s CNPC, and the remaining 9.9 percent belongs to the China-based Silk Road Fund.

Costing $27 billion, the plant will have three production lines and a total capacity of 16.5 million tons of LNG per year.

Almost 96 percent of the Yamal LNG plant’s production has already been contracted. The main customers will be the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Novatek reported.

Shareholders of the Novatek project – Total and CNPC – will purchase LNG on a long-term basis.

The ceremony was also attended by a member of Saudi Aramco’s board of directors. The kingdom is considering taking part in Novatek’s new project, Arctic LNG 2, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak.

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