Russia has not frozen oil exports to China, but rather has increased it, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said at a press briefing in Moscow on Thursday.
Yakovenko said without elaborating that Russia will "continue working with its Chinese partners" in oil exporting "on the basis of a joint plan for promoting bilateral energy cooperation," Itar- Tass reported.
The statement came amid reports that Russian oil giant Yukos had suspended oil exports to China due to Yukos cash crunch and subsequent protests from Chinese oil companies.
Yukos, Russia's sole direct supplier to the Chinese market, stopped all rail deliveries to the state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) late September, saying it was unable to pay transport fees and other export costs. But it said it would continue deliveries to another Chinese oil company, Sinopec.
Russian officials have promised to maintain oil exports to China.
"Our companies will replace the deliveries of oil by Yukos to China and, on the whole, I think this situation will be solved in a positive way," Russia's Deputy Energy Minister Ivan Materov said on Sept. 30.
Russian Railways chief Gennady Fadeyev also said that suspended deliveries of Yukos supplies to China would resume on Oct. 20. He did not explain why oil deliveries would resume on that date.
The management of the East Siberian Railway, an affiliate of the Russian Railways Company, said Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway has cut China-bound oil traffic by half since the beginning of 2004.
Yukos said it plans to export 800,000 tons of crude in the rest of 2004. This translates to a total of 5.4 million tons of crude exports to China this year, against the original plan of 6.4 million tons.
(Xinhua News Agency October 9, 2004)