Putin says Russia is keen to partner with Vietnam in energy and security

HANOI/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a visit to Vietnam on Thursday that Russia was keen to partner with the southeast Asian country in energy and security.

Russia, a major energy, natural resources and nuclear power, pivoted to Asia after the West imposed sanctions on Moscow for the conflict in Ukraine.

A day after signing a mutual defence agreement with North Korea, Putin said that Moscow and Hanoi were interested in building what he called a reliable security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We will also increase the efficiency of cooperation on these projects in the energy and gas sectors in order to create favorable conditions for the work of our companies," Putin said.

The Russian leader made the comments in a televised news briefing with Vietnamese President To Lam.

Putin said separately at the meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh that Russia was ready to set up long-term supplies of LNG to the country, according to RIA Novosti news wire.

Russia has long cooperated with Vietnam in the oil and gas sector with the state-run company Zarubezhneft being at the forefront of that business.

Vietsovpetro, a joint venture (JV) 49%-owned by Zarubezhneft and the rest by Vietnamese state oil firm PetroVietnam, will produce 250 million barrels of crude oil from Vietnam's offshore fields by Friday, Vietnam's government said late on Tuesday.

The JV, which has reported revenue of $88 billion since its formation in 1981, has, however, been facing shrinking oil reserves at its fields, the statement said.

According to the Kremlin, Zarubezhneft has also acquired an investment license for development of offshore hydrocarbon block 11-2, while Russia's largest LNG producer Novatek and PetroVietnam signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation.

Putin wrote in an opinion piece published on Wednesday in the newspaper of Vietnam's Communist Party that Novatek "plans to launch liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in Vietnam", without elaborating.

Moscow-based BCS brokerage said in a note that Novatek is unlikely to announce a new project in Vietnam in the next three to five years as it would focus on its domestic projects in the Arctic.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Lucy Papachristou and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan/Guy Faulconbridge)