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Germany's Sefe tours Singapore for fresh European LNG supplies

(Reuters) - Germany's Sefe, formerly known as Gazprom Germania, is in talks with partners, including Shell, to significantly raise liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies and meet obligations of up to 300 terawatt hours (TWh) a year, its managing director said.

"We are seeking a diversified portfolio from west European pipeline gas and globally sourced LNG," Egbert Laege told Reuters on Thursday during a trip to Singapore, one of the most important global trading hubs, to talk with potential suppliers.

Laege said the share of LNG in the company's portfolio was expected to be around 20% for 2023 and that he was in "intensive talks" with potential trading partners during his trip to raise that share.

Sefe, short for Securing Energy for Europe, would open up new geographic origins and seek partnerships on trading hubs across Europe and the world, he said.

Europe is scrambling for gas after former top energy supplier Russia cut supplies of pipeline exports, ending the country's longstanding energy relationship with the bloc, and Germany in particular.

Sefe was aiming to have brought most of its portfolio under so-called long-term deals, which can run for between 10 and 25 years, in around three years' time, Laege said.

Laege also said Sefe will require state-backed financing from Berlin beyond an agreed 9.8 billion euros ($9.7 billion) to plug funding gaps and ensure it can buy missing Russian volumes on the spot market.

"The abolition of the gas levy also changes our situation," Laege said, referring to the cancellation of an instrument that would have allowed gas importers to pass on higher procurement costs to customers.

Gazprom Germania was dropped by Russia's Gazprom earlier this year and put under German federal trusteeship to avoid the collapse of the company, which is one of Germany's largest importers of natural gas.

Sources told Reuters on Sept. 22 that Germany was looking at nationalising Sefe to protect it from bankruptcy but this could take weeks.

Laege said that he was confident that there will be clarity in ongoing discussions with the government over all open questions regarding future ownership and financing of the group before the end of the year.

He also said that Sefe was currently fulfilling an obligation to supply 65 TWh of gas per annum to German importer VNG - part of utility EnBW - and that there were very good talks with VNG about a long-term solution.

($1 = 1.0125 euros) (Reporting by Vera Eckert and Christoph Steitz, editing by Paul Carrel, Miranda Murray, Susan Fenton and David Evans)


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