Novatek is interested in Saudi Aramco joining the Arctic LNG-2 plant as a partner, the Russian gas producer’s chief Leonid Mikhelson has said, highlighting growing cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Novatek and its partners started producing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Yamal LNG project last year. It also plans to launch its second LNG project in the nearby Gydan peninsula in 2022-23.

Novatek, Russia’s largest non-state natural gas producer, and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum on cooperation on 20 February, to cooperate on gas projects and supplies.

“We are interested in Saudi Aramco to become our partner in Arctic LNG-2 project,” Mikhelson has reportedly told investors in recent conference call.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the time of the Yamal LNG project launch in December, which Saudi Energy Minister Khalid-Al-Falih attended, that Russia would like to sell its gas to the kingdom.

Mikhelson, Russia’s richest man, also said that Novatek plans to finance the new project mostly via its shareholders, with 45 per cent of total financing expected to be via equity and 55 per cent could be raised by external debt.

Mikhelson has said that financing of the Arctic LNG-2 project would be lower by a third than Yamal LNG.