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Transneft To Launch China Pipeline In Spite of Crisis

Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev announced Tuesday that the company aims to launch the oil pipeline to the Chinese border at the end of 2009 in spite of the difficulties cause by the global financial crisis

According to the information revealed by Tokarev himself and reported by Interfax, the cost of building the first phase of the pipeline has risen 21 percent to $12.5 billion because of inflation.

Tokarev told that 83 percent of the pipes were laid for the 600,000-barrels-per-day route running from fresh oil fields in eastern Siberia to energy-hungry Asian markets. The link will be Russia's first oil pipeline to Asia.

Other pipeline infrastructure, such as terminals and pumping stations, is 65 percent ready, Tokarev said.

The project will let Russia diversify its oil flows away from Europe and develop eastern Siberia into its new oil production region to replace western Siberia, where output from older fields is dropping.

Tokarev asked the government to delay the launch of the Kremlin-backed project soon after he took over the company in October 2007. He said contractors hired by Transneft's previous management had fallen seriously behind schedule.

Tokarev said that Transneft generally feels safe despite the crisis and sees no job cuts in the near term.

Author: Ksenia Kochneva