CHINA / National

Work to begin on oil pipeline
Updated: 2006-03-23 08:47

Work on a new oil pipeline from Russia to China will begin in the near future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference on the Year of Russia in China, Lavrov said the two countries will conduct a technical feasibilitystudy on the pipeline, which will be a branch of the East Siberia-Pacific pipeline.

Russian natural gas company Gazprom on Wednesday signed an agreement with the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) on the joint designing and construction of the oil pipeline from Russia's Skovorodino to the border of the two countries.

Also on Wednesday, Gazprom signed a memorandum of understandingwith CNPC on the construction of two pipelines that will allow Russia to supply 30 billion to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China annually.

Ravrov said Russia's oil exports to China will increase sharplyafter the oil pipeline is put into use.

Russia's oil exports to China has been steadily rising in recent years. It plans to sell 15 million tons of crude oil to China via railway shipments in 2006.

On whether high oil prices in the international market will affect bilateral energy cooperation, Ravrov said both countries will stick to market rules, including the signing of risk contracts.

Ravrov describes 2006 a critical year in bilateral energy cooperation.

Russian and Chinese companies may also jointly develop Russia'soil and gas resources, he said.

Ravrov said both countries expressed their interests in expanding their cooperation in nuclear energy, and that Russia will be actively involved in the building nuclear power stations in China.

The Russian Foreign Minister said his country's new draft law onmineral resources will not be an obstacle to Chinese investment inRussia's energy sector, as it only restricts foreign participationin the development of a few strategic rare minerals.