Last weekend, Russia officially opened a section of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline link to China. Russia's RIA Novosti quoted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as saying: "The implementation of this project is a crucial task for Russia and our Chinese friends. It means stabilization of supplies and energy balance for China and for us it creates entry to new challenging markets, in this particular case, to the growing market of China."
The Russia-China oil pipeline (built and operated by Russia's Transneft) will stretch from the Amur region in southeast Russia to Heilongjiang province in northeastern China (essentially running oil from Russia's Siberia to its Far East region and then on to China). This section of the pipeline is expected to carry over 220 barrels of oil yearly (oil that is now shipped by rail). Once fully operational, the ESPO pipeline will initially carry 30 million tons of oil a year, and eventually up to 50 million tons. The 4,857-kilometer (3,018-mile) pipeline is expected to include some 32 pumping stations and 13 tank farms.
Analytical Note: The ESPO pipeline is in line with Russia's efforts to move part of its oil export base away from Western Europe. This opens up a massive Chinese market for Russian oil. It is also a marriage of extreme convenience for China, supplying a readily accessible energy source.
By. Jen Alic