Monday, April 30, 2007
Transneft Export Pipelines Loaded Almost Completely
28.04.2007 (16:33) - RIA Novosti - Transneft oil export pipelines are loaded almost to capacity, with a reserve of 30-36 million barrels, the Russian pipeline monopoly's president said Saturday. Transneft transports over 90% of Russia's crude output to domestic and foreign markets. The company runs 48,000 kilometers (30,000 miles) of pipelines and three oil terminals - two on the Black Sea and one on the Baltic Sea. The company's reserve capabilities had essentially declined after an accident on the Druzhba pipeline, which made Transneft cut off 15 million tons (110 million bbl) of crude exports. Last July, an oil spill on a western section of the pipeline caused shipments to Lithuania's Mazeikiu nafta refinery to be suspended. In 2006, the company increased oil transportation 1.3%, year-on-year, to 458.5 million tons (3.36 billion bbl), including 251.6 million (1.84 billion bbl) for exports, a 0.9% rise. The government owns 75% of Transneft stock or 100% of its voting shares. Transneft's charter capital is 6.22 million rubles (about $240,000). Preferred shares are held by private owners.
Baltic Pipe Hit By Feud
27.04.2007 - The St. Petersburg Times - WARSAW — The Polish government said a planned gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany under the Baltic Sea would pass through disputed waters, potentially threatening to delay the 5 billion euro ($6.83 billion) project. The link would pass through an area of sea claimed by Poland and Denmark and come under the jurisdiction of both countries, Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak said at a news conference in Warsaw on Wednesday. Sweden already demanded Gazprom change the route of the pipeline where it passes through the country’s offshore economic zone. “Investments in the exclusive economic zone are governed by the same national laws as any on land,” Wozniak said. “There will be no special rights for the Nord Stream gas pipeline.” Gazprom wants to build the link to avoid pricing disputes with transit countries such as Belarus and Ukraine, which disrupted supply. Poland, which would also lose transit fees, says the line threatens its energy security.
Putin decrees transfer of state stake in CPC to Transneft
MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti)
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to transfer a government stake in the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) to state-owned pipeline monopoly Transneft, the Kremlin press service said Saturday. Proposed by the government, the move aims to increase the stake management efficiency, reads the document, which comes into effect on the day of publishing. In mid-March Transneft CEO Semyon Vainshtok said that the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, which pumps Russian and Kazakh oil to a terminal on the Black Sea, had made a loss of over $5.5 billion, and called for higher oil transit tariffs. Commenting on the idea behind the plan for transferring Russia's 24% in the company to Transneft, Vainshtok said: "The owner, the Russian government, has made a decision to transfer its stake in the CPC to Transneft to profit from the project." Apart from Russia, the CPC's shareholders are Kazakhstan, which has a 19% stake, and the Sultanate of Oman with a 7%. The consortium also includes such private companies as Chevron Caspian Pipeline Consortium Company (15,0%), LUKARCO B.V. (12,5%), Rosneft-Shell Caspian Ventures Limited (7,5%), Mobil Caspian Pipeline Company (7,5%), BG Overseas Holding Limited (2,0%), Agip International (N.A.) N.V. (2,0%), Kazakstan Pipeline Ventures LLC (1,75%) and Oryx Caspian Pipeline LLC (1,75%). The governments of Russia, Kazakhstan and Oman established the CPC in 1992. In 1996 the consortium was reorganized, with eight international oil producers admitted to the project. The CPC oil pipeline, which is 1,510 km (938 miles) long, was commissioned in October 2001, and now pumps 30 million tons (220.5 million bbl) a year. The Russian Federal Property Management Agency holds the Russian stake in the project, and Transneft is 75% state owned.
|On a Side|
|Transneft takes CPC bite|
29 April 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Russia has transferred its 24% stake in the Chevron-led Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) to state-controlled pipeline monopoly Transneft, the Kremlin has announced. The stake was previously managed by Russia's government and the Kremlin said in a statement that President Vladimir Putin's order to transfer it aimed to "increase management efficiency". Transneft's head Semyon Vainshtok has been one of the main critics of the CPC, which takes crude from Kazakhstan to Russia's Black Sea coast, as he claims the group pays very low fees to Russia despite pumping over 700,000 barrels per day of crude. He opposes the expansion of the CPC capacity to over 1.35 million bpd amid rising production in Kazakhstan and says the group should first help Russia build a bypass around the Bosphorus to reduce pressure on the congested Turkish straits. The CPC has said it would take part in the project only if it was simultaneously allowed to expand capacity. Chevron has a 15% stake in the CPC, with Russia's Lukoil and UK supermajor BP each holding 12.5%. ExxonMobil and a joint venture of Rosneft and Shell hold 7.5% each, while Agip and BG have 2% each. The governments of Kazakhstan and Oman control 19% and 7% respectively.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Latvia seeks branch to tap Nord Stream
19 April 2007 - Upstream staff - Latvia's economy minister said his government would back a gas pipeline under the Baltic sea if the project respected the environment, and suggested a branch line could be built to a planned gas storage facility in the country. Latvia had to see positive results from the environmental impact assessment which is to be carried out by pipeline builder Nord Stream, half owned by Gazprom, Jurijs Strods said. "That has to be there because that (possible problems) could affect all countries, ours as well, and pollute the sea," he told Reuters during a visit to the Swedish capital. Lithuania has called for an independent environmental impact assessment of the pipe, while Poland has said the project could allow Russia to divert gas away from the transit pipelines that it sees as a guarantee of its energy security. Sweden has been alone in raising security issues linked to what it fears could be a possible Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea. Possible environmental issues the consortium has to look at include old ammunition dumped on the seabed, the effect of constructing the pipe on the sea floor and whether it will have an impact on fishing. Strods said Latvia had suggested the possibility to the consortium of a branch pipeline to the central Latvian town of Dobele, where a survey is being carried out on the construction of an underground storage facility. The size of the facility, which would be not just for Latvia's use but also for the surrounding region in north-east Europe, could be about 10 billion cubic metres, he said. No branch lines from the pipe are currently planned. "Do they want that? I don't know, but we are telling them about it and saying it is possible," Strods added. He said the consortium's response had been that it wanted to see the finished results of the Dobele survey. Latvia already has a large gas storage facility at the town of Incukalns. Nord Stream, which also includes Germany's BASF and E.ON , plans to start constructing the first leg of the pipeline with a 1210 kilometre underwater section in 2008. It aims to begin pumping 27.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in 2010, though it still awaits construction permits from, among others, Finland, Sweden and Germany.
Balkan pipeline talks on table
19 April 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Talks to set up a company to own and operate a €950-million ($1.29 billion) trans-Balkan oil pipeline will begin next month in Moscow, the Bulgarian construction minister said today. Russia, Bulgaria and Greece agreed last month to launch the construction of a 279-kilometre (173-miles) oil pipeline to carry Urals oil from Bulgaria's Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean, bypassing the congested Bosphorous straits. "We will launch talks in Moscow in the first half of May for the establishment of an international project company," Construction Minister Asen Gagauzov said after meeting his Greek counterpart Dimitris Siufas, Reuters reported. Russian oil producers Rosneft and Gazprom Neft and crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft will hold 51% in the project, while Greece and Bulgaria will have 24.5% each. Bulgaria's stake will be handled by state companies Bulgargaz and Transexportstroy. Greek partners are Hellenic Petroleum , Latsis Group and the Greek unit of Gazprom, Petroleum Gas. Bulgaria has said it may sell its stake or part of it to oil majors such as KazMunaiGas and Chevron. Kazakh Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov said earlier this month the country wants to buy a stake in the pipeline within the 49% share of Bulgaria and Greece, but the exact figure was still to be discussed.
Transneft looks to new share issue
19 April 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Russia's oil pipeline monopoly Transneft said today it would need to issue preferred shares to merge with a smaller company, contradicting earlier government statements and adding to market confusion. Deputy Energy Minister Andrei Dementyev said earlier this week Transneft would not issue more preference shares when it merges with oil-product pipeline monopoly Transnefteproduct (TNP) later this year. But today, the company's head Semyon Vainshtok said an additional preferred share issue would be needed. "There will be an additional issue of preferred shares as well as ordinary shares," he told RTR state television, Reuters reported. Market analysts have said a placement of an additional preferred share issue would help improve turnover in the illiquid stock. The state owns all of Transneft's ordinary shares, which represents 75% of the company's charter capital. Private investors control all of the company's preferred stock, which represents 25% of charter capital. Preferred shares have no voting rights but its holders are entitled to at least 10% of annual net profits. Analysts see the merger as part of the Kremlin's broader strategy to enhance control over the strategic energy sector by creating mighty state giants. Vainshtok said the merged company would not change its dividend policy. "We always treated our minority shareholders with care. And there will be no actions which would worsen their position as the result of the merger," he said. Analysts have repeatedly criticised Transneft for artificially reducing its net profits to Russian standards to pay less dividends to minority shareholders. Transneft argues it needs big money for new projects, such as a pipeline to China.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Imperial lays down Siberian targets
18 April 2007 - Upstream OnLine - UK-based Imperial Energy said today it had successfully completed the laying of two pipelines in the Tomsk region of Western Siberia, in what it claims is a major step towards being able to deliver on its planned production targets in the region. The first pipeline, Snezhnaya-Zavyalovo, covers 49 kilometres and will serve Imperial’s blocks 74 and 77. The second pipeline, Maiskaya-Festivalnaya-Luginetskoye, stretches 159 kilometres from Imperial's Maiskaya field, in Block 70, through the Festivalnaya field in Block 69 to the Transneft tie-in at Luginetskoye. This pipeline will serve blocks 69, 70, 85 and 86, Imperial said Imperial estimates that first oil from the Snezhnoye and Maiskoye fields will start to flow into the company’s own pipelines by the end of June, with the production target of 6000 barrels of oil per day by end of the summer still on track.
Putin nod for Russia pipeline merger
16 April 2007 Upstream OnLine - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to merge oil product pipeline monopoly Transnefteprodukt with crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft, the Kremlin said today. The statement said Russia would keep at least 75% in the merged company, which would be created within the next five months. Transneft would issue new ordinary shares to take over Transnefteprodukt, the statement added. The idea of merging the two monopolies emerged last year, and analysts have said it is part of a broader strategy by the Kremlin to enhance control over the strategic energy sector by creating mighty state giants. Russian media have reported that Transneft might need to issue new preferred shares, but the statement made no mention of it. Tit is not known whether Transneft's current head Semyon Vainshtok would lead the combined company. "TNP is a very profitable business and, considering the advantageous economics of oil refining in Russia, demand for inexpensive pipeline transportation of refined products is likely to increase going forward," Aton brokerage said in a recent research. Analysts at Alfa Bank have said merging the pipeline infrastructure would bring little in the way of synergies, while a combination of the companies' sea port terminals could be positive. Transneft is already the world's largest oil pipeline system and supplies much of Europe with crude. TNP runs 19,000 kilometres of oil product pipelines with total annual transportation capacity of 30 million tonnes of light products, one-third of all Russian light product shipments. The remaining two-thirds of Russia's light products and almost all its fuel oil are delivered by rail. Transneft wants to build an $11 billion, 600,000 barrel per day pipeline to China by the end of this decade, while TNP's key project is a $1 billion gasoil pipeline to the Baltic port of Primorsk, where Transneft already has a big terminal. Industry experts have valued TNP at around $1.5 billion. The state fully controls TNP. The state also controls Transneft's entire ordinary stock, which represents 75% of the company's charter capital, while private investors control all of its preferred stock, which represents 25% of the charter capital. Transneft would need to issue new preferred shares as well as ordinary stock if it wishes to keep the 75/25 proportion.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Gazprom hopes for extra time with Greece
11 April 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Gazprom boss Alexei Miller was in Athens today for talks about extending the Russian giant's long-term gas supply contract with Greece from its current expiry date in 2016 until 2040. Greece's Development Ministry estimates 80% of the country's gas supplies come from Gazprom, which is Russia's monopoly exporter. "We discussed extending the contract through to 2040," Greek Development Minister George Sioufas told Reuters after meeting Miller in Athens. "We agreed that negotiations will continue ... to sign an agreement." Gazprom supplied about 2.74 billion cubic metres of gas to Greece last year and expects demand from the electricity sector, industry and consumers to grow to 6.5 Bcm by 2010. Miller also met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and discussed opportunities for Gazprom presented by the liberalisation of Greece's energy market. "We have to extend the agreement to supply Greece with Russian gas through to 2040," Miller said in a statement. "We are sure that we will have reached an agreement in principle by the end of this year." Gazprom already supplies a quarter of Europe's gas and its share will rise in coming decades. It is keen to expand its reach by getting access to end users of gas and capturing more of the revenue from consumers. Earlier this year Russia signed a deal with Greece and Bulgaria to build theBurgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline between the Bulgarian port of Burgas on the Black Sea and Alexandroupolis on Greece's Aegean coast. The pipeline, which aims to bypass the congested Turkish straits, is 51% owned by three Russian state-controlled companies, one of which is Gazprom's oil subsidiary Gazprom Neft . Gazprom said Miller discussed the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline during his trip to Greece, but gave no further details.
Exploration delays 'hit pipe plans'
10 April 2007 – Upstream OnLine – Oil companies are taking so long to explore and develop oilfields in East Siberia that a major pipeline to the Pacific coast could be delayed, Russia's Natural Resources Ministry warned today. The ministry plans to gather all the main companies working in East Siberia for a meeting next month to discuss preparations for building the pipeline, which would take 1 million barrels per day to the Pacific coast. Russian crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft plans to finish a first, 600,000 bpd leg to Skovorodino near the Chinese border next year, but it will only be expanded and extended to the Pacific if enough oil is found in East Siberia. At the beginning the pipeline will take supplies from Russia's traditional oil heartland of West Siberia but later Russia plans to rely on new flows from the relatively unexplored regions of East Siberia and Yakutia. "Based on the data submitted so far, right now the start of work on the second leg of the pipeline could be put back by three or four years at best," Sergei Fyodorov, head of geology at the ministry, was quoted as saying by RIA news agency. That could push the target date for the pipeline to reach its full capacity of 1.6 million bpd back to at least 2015. Deputy Resources Minister Alexei Varlamov told a meeting of ministry officials that oil producers were not keeping up with the government's plan for survey work in East Siberia, which could mean there would not be enough oil to fill the pipe. Last year explorers spent only 6.5 billion roubles ($250 million) compared to the government's expectation of 20 billion roubles, he said. "Around 25 billion roubles a year needs to be spent on this on average to guarantee the resource base," he added. He said the lack of work in East Siberia was also linked to delays by gas monopoly Gazprom in developing gas supplies in the region, which meant oilfield licences adjacent to gas fields such as Chayandinskoye could not be awarded. The heads of the ministry and its agencies told Reuters they planned to re-examine and possibly revoke some licences, to speed up work on auctioning licence blocks, draw up new licence areas and to keep a check on progress.
BP cranks Baku-Ceyhan capacity
05 April 2007 - Upstream onLine - The BP-run Baku-Ceyhan pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey has reached its full capacity of 1 million barrels per day, the British company said today. The 1,768-kilometre pipeline, launched in May 2006, pumps crude from the giant Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) group of fields in the Caspian Sea to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. "The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is now capable of transporting the projected one million bpd of oil after we put all the pumping stations into operation," BP Azerbaijan said in a statement, Reuters reported. The pipeline ships about 700,000 bpd of oil from the "ACG" fields with reserves estimated at 6.59 billion barrels of oil. Only two of the ACG fields, Azeri and Chirag, are already producing. Guneshli will be put on stream later this decade. To ensure transportation of the field's increasing output, BP is planning to expand the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline's capacity to 1.6 million bpd. TengizChevroil, a group led by US supermajor Chevron, is also going to use the pipeline to ship Kazakh crude to Turkey. But a Baku-Ceyhan official in Azerbaijan said earlier this week the first shipments would be delayed by at least six months to early 2008. He said the group, which also includes ExxonMobil, Kazakh state oil company KazMunaiGas, a BP-led joint venture and Russia's Lukoil, needed more time to clear "many issues" by the venture participants. He gave no details.
Kazakhstan eyes trans-Balkan bite
04 April 2007 - Upstream onLine - Kazakhstan wants to buy a stake in the trans-Balkan oil pipeline from the governments of Greece or Bulgaria to help crude from the Caspian Sea bypass the congested Turkish Bosphorus Straits, the Kazakh Energy Minister Baktykozha Izmukhambetov said today. "We are interested in this project. There is a preliminary agreement that we will join this project within a 49% share belonging jointly by Greece and Bulgaria," Izmukhambetov told Reuters. Earlier this year, Russia, Greece and Bulgaria signed a deal covering construction of a 279 kilometre oil pipeline to run between the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas and the Greek Aegean Sea port of Alexandroupolis. The route would bypass the busy Turkish straits, which already trans-ship large volumes of Russian and Kazakh crude from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. Russian oil producers Rosneft and Gazprom Neft and crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft will have 51% in the project, while Greece and Bulgaria will share the remaining 49%. "Our share depends on terms and conditions. It may happen that we will acquire half of the 49% stake," Izmukhambetov said. He said Kazakhstan planned to start talks in April, first with Greece and then with Bulgaria. He added the Russian companies had made it clear there would not resell their stakes in the pipeline. The pipeline will be able to pump up to 1 million barrels per day.
03 April 2007 - Upstream onLine - The Chevron-led TengizChevroil project in Kazakhstan has delayed first oil shipments via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline by at least six months to early 2008, an Azeri official operating the pipeline said today. "Exports of crude from TengizChevroil can start no earlier than January 2008 as many issues are yet to be cleared by the venture participants," said Ilham Nasirov, Azerbaijan's representative in Baku-Ceyhan. He gave no further details. TengizChevroil, which also includes US supermajor ExxonMobil, Kazakh state oil company KazMunaiGas, a venture of UK supermajor BP and Russia's Lukoil, was not immediately available for comment. The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is run by BP and pumps crude from large Azeri fields on the Caspian Sea to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The pipeline can pump more than 1 million barrels per day. It currently has excess capacity and is looking for extra volumes of crude. Tengiz shipped about 45 million barrels of crude by tankers via the Caspian Sea and Azerbaijan to world markets in the late 1990s. But it has re-routed all volumes to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk after building a pipeline via Russia as part of a group known as the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC). CPC wants to double capacity to accommodate rising output in Kazakhstan, but Moscow has been blocking the plan for years, asking the pipeline group to raise payment to the Russian government. Tengiz badly needs extra pipeline capacity as it wants to increase production to more than 500,000 bpd this year. Nasirov said Tengiz would pump about 26 million barrels via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline at the first stage, gradually rising to about 37 million barrels a year, or about 100,000 barrels per day. The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline is currently pumping up to 700,000 bpd. Nasirov said Azeri Caspian Sea oilfields would produce over 1.2 million bpd by 2010 and the pipeline would need to install new pumping stations and use chemical additives. The head of Azeri state oil company Socar, Rovnag Abdullayev, told reporters the pipeline might need to expand to up to 1.6 million bpd sometime next decade to ship large volumes of crude from both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.
CPC exports take a dip
03 April 2007 - Upstream onLine - The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) saw its exports of Kazakh oil to the Black Sea fall by around 100,000 barrels per day in March from an all-time high in February. The Chevron-led pipeline group said its March exports fell to 22.01 million barrels or 710,000 bpd, down from 804,000 bpd in February. Traders have said February volumes were surprisingly high as they were 15% above the pipeline's designed capacity of around 35 million tonnes per year (700,000 bpd). The group has said it had optimised throughput capacity of the pipeline. CPC badly needs to expand to accommodate rising output from Kazakhstan from its top shareholders, which also include ExxonMobil, Shell, Lukoil and BP . But the group's plan to double capacity to 1.35 million bpd has been on ice for years as Moscow opposes expansion before CPC changes its shipping fees to pay more revenues to the Russian government. The group exports oil from a terminal near the Russian port of Novorossiisk, which is often closed in winter due to heavy storms. Russian companies such as Rosneft, Surgutneftegaz and TNK-BP also pump crude via CPC. Their crude is unloaded from Russian trunk pipelines and travels a short distance by rail to be loaded onto the CPC system on Russian territory close to Novorossiisk. Russian shippers exported 84,000 bpd via CPC in March, down 8.8% on February 2007, Reuters said.
Stroytransgaz bags Saudi pipe gig
03 April 2007 - Upstream onLine – Gazprom's pipeline and construction unit Stroytransgaz has sealed a $100 million contract to build an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. Stroytransgaz worked out final details of the agreement over the weekend with Saudi Aramco in Dharan, the Novosti news agency reported. Ali al-Ajmi, vice president of Saudi Aramco, said "a powerful Russian organisation having its own advanced technology and a big working experience both in Russia and abroad" would be helpful to Saudi Arabia. The 320 kilometre Sheyba-Abkayk pipeline is to cross the Rub al-Khali, one of the most difficult environments in the world with punishing summer temperatures, quicksand and dust storms. Work is expected to start in June with completion expected in 18 months.
India for Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline despite U.S. pressure
NEW DELHI, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - The Indian government plans to go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-Indian gas pipeline project, despite pressure from Washington which opposes the deal, CNSNews quoted Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee as saying Tuesday. "Talks on the pipeline are ongoing," the minister said, adding that tariffs and customs duties were now being coordinated. The leading Indian Express daily reported that New Delhi had told Iran that it would sign a gas sales and purchase agreement before June 2007. India wants to build a $7 billion pipeline from Iran through neighboring Pakistan that would deliver 5 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually over a 25-year period from 2009. India's statement came as a rebuff to the U.S., following Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman's recent assertion in New Delhi that the groundbreaking Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation deal may be jeopardized if the project went ahead, CNSNews said. Bodman said that he had "made it clear at the highest levels of the Indian government" that the U.S. opposed the pipeline. Last December, the U.S. Congress passed the U.S.-India civilian nuclear cooperation bill to assist India's civilian nuclear energy sector. Now, the U.S. administration fears that revenues from the trilateral deal could help finance Iran's nuclear program. A World Bank report published Monday said Iranian gas supplies would cost India less than any alternative project, and supplies via Bangladesh were likely to improve the economic and political situation in the entire region. The World Bank's vice president for South Asia, Praful Patel, said that the coming summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation should consider strengthening regional economic cooperation, which could help solve financial and security issues in the region.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Russia, Greece and Bulgaria Agreement Approved by EU
16.03.2007 11:19 [Neftegaz.ru] - The European Union on Thursday welcomed an agreement between Russia, Greece and Bulgaria to build an oil pipeline that links the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The pipeline that links the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas with the Greek Mediterranean port of Alexandrou polis will reduce the increasing pressure felt by oil tankers passing through the Bosphorus and the Dardanel straits. The new pipeline runs almost in parallel with the sea route. "Given the increasing density of maritime traffic in the enclosed Black Sea and additional quantities of oil exported from the region, it is of utmost importance to give a higher priority to the alternative of transporting oil by pipelines," said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "In the oil sector, increasing international concern is being expressed over the threat of maritime accidents and the ensuing significant environmental damage caused by the resulting oil spills, " he said. The 280-km pipeline will be able to transport 50 million tons of Russian oil from the Caspian Sea each year. Work on the pipeline is expected to begin next year.