Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground right, attends the launch ceremony for the first technological line for liquefying natural gas on gravity bases as part of the Arctic LNG2 (Liquefied Natural Gas) project at the Center for the construction of large-tonnage offshore structures (CSCMS) of Novatek-Murmansk company in the village of Belokamenka, about 1700 km (1063 miles) north of Moscow, Murmansk region, Russia, Thursday, July 20, 2023. AP
Arctic LNG 2 is one of Russia's key projects in its drive to open a northern maritime route linking Asia and Europe, something made possible by global warming and the consequent melting of the glaciers.
"I request authorisation to begin transport operations at sea," an operator said during the launch ceremony broadcast on television.
"Permission granted," Putin replied, activating the lever, as Leonid Mikhelson, the chairman of gas giant Novatek stood beside him.
The project, which has an estimated cost of $21 billion, aims to achieve a production capacity of 19.8 million tonnes of LNG a year, using three production lines.
French energy giant TotalEnergies had been linked to the project but in 2022 announced it was pulling out after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
Novatek controls 60 percent of the project, and its partners are China's CNPC and CNOOC, as well as Japan Arctic LNG.