Russia, the world’s largest crude oil exporter, today launched a 2,757-kilometre “strategic” pipeline that will supply oil to energy-hungry China and the Asia Pacific region in a bid to reduce dependency on problematic European markets.

With eyes on the growing Asian-Pacific markets, the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin formally inaugurated the USD 12.1 billion East-Siberia Pacific Ocean Oil (ESPO) pipeline.

The ESPO is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels of crude oil per day from Siberia to Russia’s Far East and then to China and the Asia-Pacific region.

“It is an important event for Russia. It is a strategic project, which enables us to enter new markets in the Asia-Pacific region, where our presence was insufficient,” Putin said pressing the button for loading the first batch of crude oil on a waiting tanker at the newly built Kozmino oil terminal.

The project will link Taishet, in East Siberia’s Irkutsk Region, to Skovorodino, in the Amur Region, in Russia’s Far East.

The second stretch will run 2,100 kilometres from Skovorodino to the Pacific Ocean. Currently, the crude oil beyond Skovorodino goes by rail to China and the Pacific Coast.

When complete, it will pump 367.5 million barrels of oil annually.

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