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Russia approves China oil pipeline plan
Updated: 2009-04-13 23:12

MOSCOW - The Russian government on Monday approved an agreement with China on building a branch of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline toward China and long-term Russian oil supplies.

After a cabinet meeting that discussed the agreement, which was signed in February, Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin told reporters: "The decision has been made."

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With an expected annual throughput of 15 million tons of crude oil, the branch pipeline will connect Skovorodino in Russia and China's Mohe station, according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at the meeting that the construction of the branch "will create a stable and reliable sales market for oil in the eastern direction from East Siberian fields."

Putin said the first stage of the ESPO pipeline, from Taishet in the Irkutsk region to Skovorodino in the Amur region, will be put into operation soon.

In the meantime, Russian state oil pipeline company Transneft issued a statement Monday saying it has signed an agreement with state oil company Rosneft concerning oil shipments to China.

Under the agreement, Rosneft will supply through the ESPO branch 9 million tons of oil to China every year starting in 2011, while Transneft supplies 6 million tons.