Leonid Mikhelson

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Who is Leonid Mikhelson?

Leonid Mikhelson Story

Leonid Mikhelson is a prominent Russian businessman and philanthropist who has made a significant impact on the energy industry and the Russian economy.

As the co-founder and largest shareholder of Novatek, a major Russian gas producer, Mikhelson has played a pivotal role in shaping the country’s energy landscape. His business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit have helped Novatek become one of the largest independent natural gas producers in the world.

Despite facing controversy and criticism over allegations of corruption and environmental issues, Mikhelson’s contributions to the energy industry and society have cemented his place as one of Russia’s most influential businessmen.

Here is the story of Leonid Mikhelson.

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Leonid Mikhelson Personal Info

Name: Leonid Mikhelson
DOB: August 11, 1955
Birthplace: Kaspiysk, Russia.
Education: Gubkin Russian State University
Wife/Partner: Lyudmila Mikhelson
Hometown: Moscow, Russia.
Famous As: A Russian billionaire and the CEO of Novatek, one of the largest natural gas producers in Russia.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Early Life

Leonid Mikhelson was born on August 11, 1955, in Kaspiysk, a small town in the Republic of Dagestan, which was then part of the Soviet Union. He was the second child of a family of Jewish origin, and his father was a military engineer while his mother was a nurse.

Mikhelson’s childhood was marked by the turbulence of the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. His family moved around frequently due to his father’s work, and Mikhelson attended several schools across different cities. Despite the constant relocation, Mikhelson excelled academically, displaying a keen interest in mathematics and science from a young age.

Leonid Mikhelson started his career working for several state-owned energy companies, where he was involved in designing and constructing gas pipelines. Despite the challenges of working in the Soviet bureaucracy, Mikhelson continued to excel in his career. He soon realized that he wanted to take a more entrepreneurial path and explore opportunities beyond the constraints of the Soviet system.

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Leonid Mikhelson’s Education

After completing his primary and secondary education, Leonid Mikhelson enrolled at the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas in Moscow, one of the most prestigious universities in the Soviet Union for energy-related studies.

At Gubkin University, Mikhelson studied civil engineering and specialized in the construction of gas pipelines. He showed exceptional academic performance and was highly regarded by his professors for his technical expertise and analytical skills. Mikhelson’s passion for the energy industry was evident during his time at the university, and he was eager to apply his knowledge to real-world projects.

However, Mikhelson recognized that he needed additional education to achieve his career goals. He enrolled in a Ph.D. program in economics at the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1988, where he studied the economics of the gas industry. His research focused on the impact of market reforms on the energy sector and the potential for private investment in the industry.

Mikhelson’s education in engineering and economics provided him with a unique skill set, laying the foundation for his success as a businessman.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Career

Leonid Mikhelson began his career as a pipeline engineer. He worked for several state-owned companies before joining the Ministry of Gas Industry, where he was involved in the development of gas fields in Western Siberia. Mikhelson’s work in the gas industry exposed him to the complexities of the sector, which helped him gain a deep understanding of the technical, regulatory, and economic factors that shape the energy landscape.

Despite the challenges of working in the Soviet bureaucracy, Mikhelson continued to excel in his career. However, he soon realized that he wanted to take a more entrepreneurial path and explore opportunities beyond the constraints of the Soviet system.

In 1989 Mikhelson co-founded a private consulting company providing services to gas and oil companies. This experience allowed him to gain valuable insights into the energy industry and the opportunities for private investment. In 1994, Mikhelson and his business partner, Viktor Vekselberg, founded Novatek, a natural gas producer that would eventually become one of the largest independent gas producers in the world.

Novatek started as a small gas production company with a single field in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District in northern Russia. Mikhelson recognized the potential of the region and invested in the development of the Yamal fields, which became the cornerstone of Novatek’s success. Under Mikhelson’s leadership, Novatek grew rapidly, becoming a major player in the Russian gas industry.

In 2002, Novatek became the first privately-owned company to obtain a license for natural gas production in Russia. It marked a significant milestone for the company and paved the way for further growth. Novatek continued to expand its operations, acquiring new fields and investing in infrastructure to support its production.

In 2010, Novatek entered into a strategic partnership with Total, the French energy company, which allowed it to expand its international presence. The partnership enabled Novatek to develop the Yamal LNG project, a massive liquefied natural gas production facility in the Arctic. The project was completed in 2017 and has since become one of the largest LNG facilities in the world.


Mikhelson has also been involved in other business ventures and investments outside of Novatek. In 2006, he co-founded Sibur, a petrochemical company that has become one of the largest chemical producers in Russia. Mikhelson is also a major shareholder in several other companies, including the Russian potash producer Uralkali and the Swiss-based oil trading company Gunvor.

Mikhelson’s career has been marked by his success in the energy industry, and his entrepreneurial ventures have made him one of the richest people in Russia.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Net Worth

Leonid Mikhelson is one of the wealthiest people in Russia, with a real-time net worth of $21.6 billion as of May 1, 2023. Mikhelson’s wealth is primarily derived from his ownership stake in Novatek, a natural gas producer that he co-founded in 1994.

Novatek has grown into one of the largest independent gas producers in the world. The company’s success has been driven by its investments in the development of the Yamal fields in northern Russia and the construction of the Yamal LNG project.

In addition, Mikhelson has also invested in other businesses and ventures. He is a major shareholder in Sibur, the largest chemical producer in Russia. He is also a shareholder in Uralkali, a Russian potash producer, and Gunvor, a Swiss-based oil trading company.

Mikhelson’s net worth has fluctuated over the years, depending on market conditions and the performance of his investments. His net worth has increased over the years, making him one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Personal Life

Leonid Mikhelson is described as a quiet and reserved individual who avoids the public spotlight. He is known to be a workaholic and spends long hours in the office, overseeing Novatek’s operations and making strategic decisions for the company.

Mikhelson is known to be a family-oriented person. He is an avid traveler and enjoys exploring new places. He has visited many countries around the world and has a particular interest in historical sites and cultural attractions.

Leonid Mikhelson is passionate about environmental conservation. Under his leadership, Novatek has implemented a range of initiatives to reduce its carbon footprint and minimize its impact on the environment.

Despite his immense wealth and success, Leonid Mikhelson remains humble and dedicated to making a positive impact in the world.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Parents

Leonid Mikhelson’s parents were Viktor Mikhelson and Praskovya Shirokova. They played an important role in shaping his early life and career.

Viktor Mikhelson was a military engineer and served in the Soviet Army during World War II. After the war, he worked in the construction industry and played a key role in the development of infrastructure projects in the Soviet Union.

Praskovya Shirokova, Mikhelson’s mother, was a teacher and instilled in her son a love of learning and a commitment to education. She encouraged him to study hard and pursue his dreams, and her influence is said to have played a significant role in his success.

Mikhelson’s parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised primarily by his mother. Despite the challenges of growing up in a single-parent household, Mikhelson was a dedicated student and excelled academically.

Throughout his career, Mikhelson has credited his parents with instilling in him a strong work ethic and a commitment to excellence. He has also spoken publicly about the sacrifices his mother made to ensure that he had access to education and opportunities.

The influence of Mikhelson’s parents can be seen throughout his life and career.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Siblings

It is known that Mikhelson had at least one sister, although her name and details of her life are not widely reported.

According to some sources, Mikhelson’s sister was born in the late 1950s and grew up with him in the Soviet Union. However, there are few details available about her education, career, or personal life.

It is unclear whether Mikhelson has any other siblings or how many siblings he may have had. Mikhelson is known to be a private individual who avoids the public spotlight, and information about his family members is not readily available.

Despite the limited information about Mikhelson’s siblings, it is clear that his family played an important role in shaping his early life and career.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Wife (Partner)

Leonid Mikhelson is married to Lyudmila Mikhelson. They have been married for several decades.

Mikhelson is known to be a devoted husband and father. Despite his busy schedule and demanding career, he has made time for his family and is said to prioritize spending time with them whenever possible. He has credited his wife and children with providing him with balance and support throughout his career.

Leonid Mikhelson’s marriage to Lyudmila and his commitment to his family are an important part of his personal life and values. He remains dedicated to the people and relationships that matter most to him.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Children

Leonid Mikhelson Biography

Leonid Mikhelson has two children. They have largely stayed out of the public eye. His daughter, Viktoria Mikhelson, is known to be a private individual who avoids the media spotlight.

Viktoria Mikhelson is said to have graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in psychology, and she has also studied fashion design in Europe. However, she does not appear to have pursued a high-profile career or public profile.


There is little information available about Leonid Mikhelson’s son, and he has largely stayed out of the public eye. His name and personal details have not been widely reported.

Leonid Mikhelson’s children prefer to keep a low profile. However, it is known that Mikhelson is a devoted father who has spoken publicly about the importance of family and personal relationships in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Challenges and Obstacles

Leonid Mikhelson has faced numerous challenges and obstacles throughout his career, including economic and political challenges, as well as personal setbacks.

  • One of the earliest challenges Mikhelson faced was during his time as an engineer in the Soviet Union. He faced a shortage of resources and materials due to the country’s struggling economy. Despite these challenges, Mikhelson worked hard to become a successful engineer and later transitioned to a career in finance and investment.
  • Another major challenge Mikhelson faced was the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, which led to a period of economic turmoil and political instability in Russia. During this time, Mikhelson faced significant financial challenges and had to navigate a complex and rapidly-changing business environment.
  • Mikhelson faced additional obstacles as he worked to grow Novatek into a major player in the Russian energy sector, including competition from other established companies and regulatory challenges.
  • In recent years, Mikhelson has faced additional challenges related to his company’s operations in the Arctic region, including environmental concerns and regulatory challenges.
  • He has faced personal challenges, including a divorce from his first wife and health issues.

However, Mikhelson has remained committed to his work and has continued to grow and expand his business empire. He is known for his tenacity, resilience, and ability to navigate complex challenges.

Leonid Mikhelson’s Accomplishments

Leonid Mikhelson is a highly accomplished business leader who has achieved significant success throughout his career in the energy industry.

  1. Founding Novatek: In 1994, Mikhelson co-founded the natural gas company Novatek, which has since grown into one of the largest independent natural gas producers in Russia.
  2. Spearheading Arctic development: Mikhelson has been a key figure in the development of the Russian Arctic region, overseeing the development of several major natural gas projects in the area.
  3. Driving innovation in the energy sector: Mikhelson has been a leader in driving innovation and technological advancement in the energy sector, working to develop new methods for extracting natural gas and other resources in a more efficient and sustainable manner. His company has also been a pioneer in the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), helping to expand the global market for this important energy source.
  4. Philanthropic activities: Leonid Mikhelson has also been active in philanthropic activities, supporting a range of charitable causes and initiatives in Russia and beyond. He has donated significant sums to support scientific research, environmental conservation, and education, among other causes.

Leonid Mikhelson’s accomplishments have been numerous and far-reaching, and he has played a pivotal role in shaping the global energy industry and driving economic growth in Russia and beyond.

Leonid Mikhelson Recognition and Awards

Leonid Mikhelson has been recognized with numerous awards and honors throughout his career for his outstanding contributions to the energy industry and his philanthropic activities. Let takes a closer look at some of his most notable recognition and awards.

  • In 2018, Mikhelson was named a World Energy Leader by the World Energy Council, recognizing his contributions to the global energy industry and his leadership of Novatek.
  • Novatek, under Mikhelson’s leadership, has won several Platts Global Energy Awards, which recognize excellence in the energy industry. The company won the award for Energy Company of the Year in 2018 and LNG Player of the Year in 2013.
  • In 2016, Mikhelson was awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, one of the highest civilian honors in Russia. The award recognized his significant contributions to the development of the national economy and his philanthropic activities.
  • Mikhelson has been named one of the world’s most powerful CEOs by Forbes magazine on several occasions, including in 2013 and 2015. The magazine praised his leadership of Novatek and his role in driving innovation in the global energy industry.
  • In 2014, Mikhelson was awarded the Russian Federation Government Award for Science and Technology for his contributions to the development of the country’s natural gas industry.
  • Mikhelson was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in Russia in 2012. The award recognized his innovative approach to business and his role in transforming Novatek into a global energy leader.
  • Mikhelson was named a Russian Business Leader by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in 2012, recognizing his outstanding achievements in the business world.

Leonid Mikhelson has been recognized with numerous awards and honors for his leadership of Novatek. He has been widely praised, and he is regarded as one of the most influential and respected business leaders in Russia and beyond.

Leonid Mikhelson’s life story serves as an inspiration to all those who strive to achieve their dreams, no matter the obstacles they face. His dedication to excellence, his unwavering commitment to his values, and his passion for innovation will undoubtedly continue to shape the global energy industry for many years to come.

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