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Where Pipeline Goes»

Japan pushes pipeline deal

Russia, torn between competing pipeline projects to China and Japan, will not be able to promise more oil supplies to visiting Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a senior Russian official said.

The Energy Ministry official said Tokyo was showing growing interest in Russian oil shipments, holding out the prospect of hefty loans to help build a huge pipeline from Siberia to the Pacific.

"But we simply have not got enough oil resources to guarantee supplies to both China and the Pacific. It is a very delicate political decision that the Kremlin has to make so as to avoid upsetting both China and Japan," he said.

The official said no major oil agreements were planned during Koizumi's three-day visit. Russia is the world's No. 2 oil exporter while Japan is the world's second-biggest importer.

Moscow, which has said it will give its go-ahead to just one of the two projects, is due to make its choice later this year.