Russia aims to boost LNG sales, trade with China via NSR, Novak says

(Reuters) - Russia wants to increase trade with China via the Northern Sea Route and become its top supplier of LNG, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin visited China this week and invited global investment in the NSR which he said could deepen trade between east and west.

The route runs from Murmansk near Russia's border with Norway eastwards to the Bering Strait near Alaska.

Novak, who was part of Putin's delegation on the visit to China, met Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang and spoke at a Russia-China business forum, the Russian government said.

Novak said that Russia is currently the fourth-largest LNG supplier to China. Russia competes with Qatar, the United States and Australia on the global LNG market. "Russia could become the main reliable supplier of LNG to China, taking into account the projects that are currently being implemented," Novak said, according to the government transcript of his speech at the forum.

He and Ding Xuexiang discussed ways to boost trade volumes via the two countries to at least 50 million metric tons of cargo sent via the NSR.

Russia last year approved a development plan for the route, expecting turnover of 80 million tons of cargo in 2024 and 150 million tons in 2030.

Russia has long viewed the route as an alternative to the Suez Canal. Although it is physically challenging due to thick ice in the winter season, it could cut sea transport times between Europe and Asia at a time when Russia's trade with Western countries is at post-Cold War lows following Moscow's decision to send troops into Ukraine.

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