Transneft begins operations at Skovorodino oil terminal

Russia’s OAO Transneft will begin operating a railroad oil terminal on Oct. 15 in Skovorodino, end point of the first phase of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, official sources said.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12 -- Russia’s OAO Transneft will begin operating a railroad oil terminal on Oct. 15 in Skovorodino, end point of the first phase of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline, official sources said.

The ESPO project control center said the new terminal will load oil into railroad tanker cars for transport east to the export terminal at Kozmino Bay on the Pacific Coast. Rail delivery of oil will continue until the second phase of the ESPO line is completed in 2014-15, linking Skovorodino and Kozmino directly. ESPO’s first phase, which will run from Taishet to Skovorodino, is scheduled to be launched Dec. 25.

Initially about 600,000 b/d will flow along the line, with 300,000 b/d going to China along the 67-km pipeline spur now under construction from Skovorodino. China will send the oil to Daqing for refining.

The remaining 300,000 b/d of ESPO crude will travel by train from Skovorodino to Kozmino for export to other Asian markets, mainly Japan.

Meanwhile, Transneft last week was preparing proposals on the amount of tariff for transporting oil for export on the ESPO, effective January 2010. “The network tariff will be calculated for 2010 based on transportation of 15 million tonnes of oil in 2010 and 30 million tonnes in 2011, including 15 million tonnes to China,” said Transneft Vice-President Vladimir Kushnarev.

“By introducing [the network tariffs], we are providing additional stimulus to the oil companies to develop new fields in Siberia, thereby increasing crude oil shipment volumes,” he said.

The Russian government earlier instructed the Federal Tariffs Service (FTS), Transneft, and other agencies to introduce the network tariff by January. Earlier the FTS proposed a tariff of $30-32/tonne based on preliminary calculations.

In September, Russia’s energy ministry said it was going ahead with plans to create a new grade of crude to be transported along the ESPO line. "We are working on the issue. We are actively cooperating with companies and have almost set the parameters of this sort of crude," said Vitaly Karaganov, head of the energy ministry's oil and gas department.

According to energy ministry officials, the new ESPO crude will be light and medium-sour, superior to Urals export blend but inferior to Siberian Light. Ministry officials said the blend will have a sulfur content of 0.65-0.75% and 33° gravity. Urals export blend has 31-33° gravity and a sulfur content of 0.8-1.8%, while Siberian Light is 35.1° gravity and has a sulfur content of 0.57%.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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