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Russia may begin building a direct oil pipeline to Europe bypassing Belarus in April to reduce its dependence on the transit country
Russia may begin building a direct oil pipeline to Europe bypassing Belarus in April to reduce its dependence on the transit country, the head of the state pipeline monopoly told a government daily. Energy pricing rows with transit countries, Belarus and Ukraine, in 2006 and 2007 have led to the suspension in Russian energy supplies to Europe and undermined Russia's reputation as a reliable oil and gas exporter. Semyon Vainshtok, head of Transneft [RTS: TRNF], told Rossiiskaya Gazeta Tuesday that a decision on the construction timeframe might be made within a few weeks, and added that his company was technically prepared to begin the construction in April. The pipeline, which will have an annual capacity of 50 million metric tons (366.5 million bbl), will run from the Russian town of Unecha, near the Belarusian border, to the Primorsk terminal bordering on Finland as a second leg of the Baltic Pipeline System, which will pump Siberian oil from Russia to Germany across the Baltic seabed and on to the rest of Europe and the United States. The Unecha-Primorsk pipeline leg is designed to increase the Baltic pipeline's annual capacity, which was raised to 74 million tons (542.42 million bbl) last year, and to "provide stable oil supplies to our partners in western Europe," Vainshtok said, adding that the new pipeline would help diversify Russian energy exports. "We expect to reorient half of the 100 million metric tons (733 million bbl), exported through Belarus, to Primorsk," he said.
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