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Russians: 'Kazakhs want to use ESPO pipeline'

Eric Watkins
Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 -- Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Kazakhstan's state-owned oil pipeline operator KazTransOil is interested in transporting Kazakh oil through Russia's East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline.

"Our Kazakh partners are looking at the project with great interest and enthusiasm. We are happy about that," Shmatko said at the launch of a section of the pipeline between Talakan and Taishet.

"Their participation in the launching of the pipeline from Talakan to Taishet indicates that they are exploring the possibility of using Russia's new transportation capabilities for the transfer of Kazakh oil," Shmatko said.

The new section was launched at Oil Booster Station No. 10 to which a 10-km supply line has been built from the field, according to OAO Transneft subsidiary Vostoknefteprovod.

Transneft Chief Executive Nikolai Tokarev said the 1,100-km pipeline will transport as much as 4,000 tonnes/day of crude, in reverse mode.

The pipeline will supply about 220,000 tonnes of oil to the Angarsk petrochemical company by yearend, Tokarev said, including 180,000 tonnes from Talakan and some 40,000 tonnes from Verkhnechonskoye field.

TNK-BP volumes
Meanwhile, TNK-BP plans to begin supplying oil to the ESPO line later this month from its Verkhnechonskoye field in the Irkutsk region, said Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of Renova Group, the co-owner of TNK-BP.

"We will complete the first stage of East Siberia's Verkhenchonsk project in October and connect it to the first leg of the ESPO pipeline, which has been commissioned. We will supply oil to it jointly with our partners," Vekselberg said at a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

In September, the Russian energy ministry said Russia will market oil exported through the pipeline as a new blend of crude, possibly of higher quality than the country's main Urals export blend.

"We will establish a separate blend of crude for the deliveries via the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline," a spokesman with Russia's energy ministry said, citing Deputy Energy Minister Stanislav Svetlitsky.

"The decision has been taken; the details have been worked out," Svetlitsky said, according to the spokesman. He added that the new blend has not yet been named.

The Taishet-Talakan section of the ESPO line was completed at the end of September, while the remaining stretch to Skovorodino, near the border with China, is scheduled for completion by yearend 2009.

Although present at the launch of the section, Kazakh officials were not quoted as expressing interest in using the line.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.


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