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. Russian minister says no oil pipeline to China in 2009: report

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Oct 23, 2008
A partially built Russian oil pipeline to Asia will not be connected to China in 2009, the Interfax news agency reported Thursday, citing Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko.

"There is no way. It cannot be put into operation next year," Interfax quoted Shmatko as saying when asked if a spur would be built from the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline to the Chinese border in 2009.

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

The projected spur from Skovorodino, a town in Russia's eastern Amur region, to the Chinese border would be relatively short at 67 kilometres (42 miles) and China has funded a feasibility study for its construction.

The first phase of the ESPO pipeline, connecting oil-producing regions to Skovorodino, was initially scheduled to go into operation in late 2009 but its launch has been pushed back to the fourth quarter of 2009, Interfax said.

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