Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, today inaugurated the East—Siberia—Pacific Ocean oil pipeline which will enable Moscow to enter markets in the Asia— Pacific region and reduce dependency on European customers.

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

The project is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels (220,000 tonnes) of crude per day from Siberia to Russia’s far east and then on to China and the Asia—Pacific region.

According to news agency RIA Novosti, the project’s first leg envisages the construction of a 2,757—kilometre section with annual capacity of 220.5 million barrels of crude. It 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 beyond Skovorodino goes by rail to China and the Pacific coast.

Putin said that the project’s first leg cost USD 12.1 billion, and USD 2 billion were allocated for the construction of the oil terminal in Kozmino.