Russia's Yamal liquefied natural gas project (LNG) signed loan agreements with Chinese banks worth more than $12 billion, Yamal LNG said April 29, Reuters reported. The 15-year loans of $10.6 billion from the Export-Import Bank of China and $1.5 billion with the China Development Bank mean the project's external financing needs are fully covered. The deal is a breakthrough for project: Its future had been cloudy due to lack of access to Western capital markets and the fall in global oil prices, and the loans will allow it to start producing liquefied natural gas by 2017, reports say. Moreover, the agreement circumvents Western sanctions against Novatek, which is leading the project, and its majority shareholder, Gennady Timchenko. Russia holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, and China's demand for natural gas is rapidly growing.