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Russian oil pipeline to the Pacific goes into service


Russia's East Asia oil pipeline has officially gone into service. The pipeline is a reflection of the country's shift from European to Asian markets.

President Vladimir Putin commissioned the pipeline Tuesday with the completion of the 4,740 km-long (2,945 miles) East Siberia - Pacific Ocean (ESPO) section, which runs between the Siberian city of Skovorodino and the Pacific port of Kosmino, Russian media reported.

The new section will "considerably increase the infrastructure capacity of the regions in Russia's far east," said Putin in a televised address. He called the commissioning a "significant event."

The $25 billion (around 20 billion euros) pipeline carries some 30 million tons of oil annually, and is set to raise its output to 50 million tons per year.

Russia, in a dispute with the European Union over commodity prices, has repeated a threat to increase its supply to markets in the East.

ESPO, Russia hopes, will allow it to compete with US companies in the demanding Asia region, but there are doubts over whether Siberia's oil fields lack enough accessible oil to keep the pipeline fully flowing.

Last year the largest consumers of oil from Eastern Siberia were Japan, China and the US. Russian oil was also shipped to the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

dr/jm (AFP, dpa)

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