Russian minister says plans drawn for China oil pipeline

MOSCOW: Plans have been drawn up for a pipeline linking Siberian oil fields to China, a Russian minister was quoted as saying Sunday, in a sign of t

ightening ties between Russia and its energy-hungry neighbour.

Russia’s state-controlled pipeline monopoly Transneft has finished designing a spur from the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline to China, Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.

“Transneft has prepared blueprints for the spur, whose technical details are in the phase of being agreed with the Chinese side,” Sechin said ahead of a meeting with Chinese energy officials, quoted by RIA Novosti.

China has jockeyed with Japan for access to oil from the partially built ESPO pipeline, which is designed to link Siberian oil fields to Russia’s Pacific coast with a length of over 4,700 kilometres (2,900 miles).

The projected spur to the Chinese border would be relatively short at 67 kilometres (42 miles) and would cement Russian-Chinese energy cooperation after years of hesitation by Moscow, a former Cold War rival of Beijing.

On Thursday, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko as saying the spur would not be ready in 2009.
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