Gazprom begins work on Far East pipeline

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has signed an agreement with Japanese partners to study ways to help supply Japan and other Asian countries with natural gas from northern Sakhalin Island.

A pipeline being built linking Sakhalin Island and Vladivostok will at first "secure energy resources for domestic consumers in (Russia's) east," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said here late Tuesday.

"After that, the delivery of gas and its processed products from Vladivostok into the Asian-Pacific region, including Japan, will become possible," Miller told reporters at a briefing that followed a Japanese-Russian business forum.

He said Gazprom, Japan's Agency of Natural Resources and Energy and two Japanese companies had signed an agreement to study delivery of supplies as well as the construction of processing facilities and the project's financing.

In a separate statement, Gazprom named the two Japanese partners as Itochu Corporation and Japan Petroleum Exploration Co.

The pipeline, which Miller said would be completed in 2011, will give Japan access to the energy resources of Sakhalin Island, which lies north of Hokkaido and which it occupied until the end of World War II.

"The realisation of this project can lead to our cooperation with the region's countries..., secure additional amounts of energy resources for them and strengthen Gazprom's position in these new competitive markets," Miller said.

Separately, Russia's oil state firm Rosneft is considering building a major oil refinery in Primorsky Krai, the eastern Russian province's governor, Sergei Darkin, told reporters.

Rosneft plans to start building the 14-billion-dollar complex in September, Darkin said, adding it would process 20 million tons of crude oil a year.

Both Miller and Darkin attended the Russian-Japanese forum to boost economic ties between the two countries on the day Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Tokyo for talks with his counterpart, Taro Aso.

Source: AFP

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