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Putin's China Visit Highlights Oil Projects

While Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to visit China this week, oil pipeline projects are likely to top the agenda, Shenzhen Daily reported Tuesday.

On Sunday, Igor A. Rogachev, Russian Ambassador to China, said that a long-anticipated Sino-Russia oil pipeline plan would be unveiled in the next few months.

Although declining to disclose any detail, Rogachev said Russia had finished due researches on the project after weighing economic benefits and diplomatic ties.

The two neighboring countries would also negotiate on joint venture nuclear power plants and coal mining projects during Putin's visit, he said.

According to Rogachev, trade volume between China and Russia would reach US$20 billion this year and both sides hoped to increase the volume to US$60 billion by 2010.

For years, Russia has been hesitating whether to build a pipeline to China or Japan, its two energy-thirsty Asian neighbors.

However, according to Vladimir Milov, Russia's former deputy energy minister, the Chinese route is economically viable.

A pipeline to China would run 2,400 kilometers from the Siberian city of Angarsk to China's Daqing, while a pipeline supplying Japan would cover 4,130 kilometers from Taichet, another Siberian city, to the Russian port of Nakhodka.

There was enough oil to fill the pipeline in the fields of central Siberia and in the Irkutsk and Tomsk regions, which could favor China in Russia's decision, Milov said.

Besides Japan, Russia could supply oil to other countries including South Korea and even the United States.

However, these options could not be as profitable as a Chinese pipeline, analysts said.

Last month, struggling Russian oil giant Yukos announced it would secure its export routes at least for October despite its financial difficulties.

(Shenzhen Daily via agencies October 12, 2004)

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