Because of the vital role of oil and natural gas in the national economy and the need to move those commodities over long distances, pipelines occupy a critical position in the national transportation system. The system includes 46,800 kilometers of trunk pipelines, 395 oil pumping stations, and 868 storage facilities. In 2005 the overall pipeline system included 150,007 kilometers for natural gas, 75,539 kilometers for oil, 13,771 kilometers for refined products, and 122 kilometers for gas condensate. [Source: Library of Congress, October 2006]

Natural gas and petroleum pipelines play a crucial role in Russia's economy, both in distributing fuel to domestic industrial consumers and in supporting exports to Europe and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Their complex network connects production regions with virtually all of Russia's centers of population and industry. Pipelines are especially important because of the long distances between Siberian oil and gas fields and Russia's European industrial centers as well as countries to the west.[Source: Library of Congress, July 1996]

Pipelines in 2013: condensate 122 kilometers; gas 163,872 kilometers; liquid petroleum gas 1,378 kilometers; oil 80,820 kilometers; oil/gas/water 40 kilometers; refined products 13,658 kilometers; water 23 kilometers; Pipelines in 1993: Crude oil, 48,000 kilometers; petroleum products, 15,000 kilometers; natural gas, 140,000 kilometers. [Sources: CIA World Factbook =; Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

Russian Domestic Pipelines

Russia has an extensive domestic distribution and export pipeline network. If all the small interconnecting pipelines are included it has more than a million miles of gas and oil pipelines. Russia's crumbling oil transport infrastructure is currently in a sad state. It badly needs upgrading and replacing. In the 1990s, more than 5 percent of the oil produced in Russia was stolen by tapping into leaking pipelines. An unknown quantity is lost in oil spills and leakage.

Much of Russia's oil is produced in Siberia, in a harsh environment thousand of miles from ice-free ports, which necessitates the construction of expensive pipelines. Several major new pipeline projects have been proposed to expedite transport to critical ports such as St. Petersburg, Murmansk, and Novorossiysk, relieving overloaded lines designated for export.

In recent decades, the natural gas lines have expanded at a much faster rate than the crude oil lines. Many of Russia's major oil pipelines parallel gas lines. A trunk oil line runs eastward from the Volga-Ural fields to Irkutsk on Lake Baikal, westward from those fields into Ukraine and Latvia, and southwest to connect with the North Caucasus oil fields and refineries; the line is joined by a line from the oil center at Surgut in the West Siberian Plain. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

Major pipeline include: 1) the 837-miles pipeline between Ufa and Omsk; and 2) natural gas pipelines that run to Moscow and St. Petersburg from Saratov, Stavropol and Kohtla. A relatively new pipeline from the oil-rich Timan-Pechora region north of the Urals to the port of Primorsk on the Baltic Sea, near St. Petersburg, was completed in 2001. It carries 240,000 barrels a day and replaced a major pipeline to the Baltic which ended in Latvia. A new link connected a Ukraine Black Sea port with Russia's main oil pipeline system.

Transnet and Gazprom: Russia’s Pipeline Monopolies

Transnet is Russia’s state's oil pipeline monopoly. It continues to control the oil distribution system, although the government has proposed privatization of some parts of the pipeline infrastructure. Transneft’ is divided into several regional trunk-line operating companies. It delivers mostly to domestic sources and can handle 3.3 million barrels a day in exports. Transnet has traditionally been subsidized by the government. In the mid 2000s, Moscow told Transnet it had start supporting itself, and pushed it to look to international markets for money and investment.

Russia's domestic and export pipeline network is nearly completely owned and run by the state-run Transneft. One notable exception is the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) pipeline, which runs from Tengiz field in Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. The CPC pipeline is owned by a consortium of companies with the largest share (24 percent) owned by the Russian government, whose interests in the consortium are represented by Transneft. KazMunaiGaz (19 percent), the state-owned oil and natural gas company of Kazakhstan, and Chevron (15 percent) are the second- and third-largest shareholders in the consortium. Another exception is the TransSakhalin pipeline, owned by the Sakhalin-2 consortium, in eastern Russia. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 2015 ~]

Gazprom has a virtual monopoly over Russia's gas production and transmission. It controls natural gas production and owns the gas pipeline system, which embraces 231,880 miles of pipelines. Gazprom owns many of the pipelines that carry natural gas not only in Russia but in much of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. In this way it can manipulate it competitors, which need the pipelines. Most of Russia's natural gas pipelines were built during the Soviet era, and about 75 percent of the system is more than 20 years old. Since the late 2000s, Gazprom has been adding major new pipelines to accommodate new sources of supply, including fields in Yamal and Eastern Siberia, and new export routes, including exports to China and new pipelines to Europe that avoid Ukraine.

The condition of the pipeline infrastructure has declined significantly in recent years; in many areas, maintenance is complicated by permafrost and climatic conditions. Modernization and expansion have been hindered by the monopoly positions of Transneft’ and Gazprom.

Russian Oil Pipelines

Russia's major crude oil pipelines: Western pipelines (facility, status, capacity (million barrels per day), total length (miles), supply regions, destination, details): A) Druzhba; operating; 2; 2,500; West Siberia and Urals-Volga regions; Europe; completed in 1964. B) Baltic Pipeline System 1; operating; 1.3; 730; connects to Druzhba; Primorsk Port on the Gulf of Finland; completed in 2001. C) Baltic Pipeline System 2; operating; 0.6; 620; connects to Druzhba; Ust-Luga Port on the Gulf of Finland; completed in 2012. D) North-West Pipeline System; inactive; 0.3; 50; connects to Druzhba; Butinge, Lithuania and Ventspils, Latvia on the Baltic Sea; inactive since 2006. E) Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC); operating; 0.7; 940; Tengiz field, Kazakhstan; Novorossiysk, Russia on the Black Sea; Planned expansion to 1.3 million barrels per day by 2016. F) Baku-Novorossiysk Pipeline; operating; 0.1; 830; Caspian and central Asia, via Sangachal Port, Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea; Novorossiysk, Russia on the Black Sea; completed in 1996. [Source: U. S. Energy Information Administration based on Transneft, Sakhalin Energy, Caspian Pipeline Consortium, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, Orlen Lietuva, European Parliament, Nefte Compass, and Platt's Oilgram Price Report]

Russia's major crude oil pipelines: Eastern pipelines (facility, status, capacity (million barrels per day), total length (miles), supply regions, destination, details): A) TransSakhalin; operating; 0.2; 500; Sakhalin fields (offshore northern Sakhalin); Pacific seaport of Prigorodnoye (Southern Sakhalin Island); completed in 2008. B) Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) Pipeline; operating; ESPO-1: 1.2 currently, 1.6 by 2020. ESPO-2: 0.5 currently, 1.0 by 2020. China spur: 0.3 currently, 0.6 by 2018. ESPO-1: 1,700. ESPO-2: 1,300. Daqing spur: 660; C) East Siberian fields via connecting pipelines: West. Siberian fields and Yamal-Nenets region; Pacific seaport of Kozmino with a spur to Daqing, China; ESPO-1 (Taishet-Skovorodino) completed in 2009. ESPO-2 (Skovorodino-Kozmino) completed in 2012 Skovorodino-Daqing, China spur completed in 2010. D) Purpe-Samotlor Pipeline; operating; 0.5; 270; Yamal-Nenets and Ob Basins; connects to ESPO Pipeline; completed in 2011. E) Zapolyarye-Purpe Pipeline; construction; 0.6 (expandable to 0.9); 300; Zapolyarye and Yamal-Nenets region; connects to Purpe-Samotlor and ESPO pipelines; Planned for 2016 may be delayed 2-3 years or may carry minimal volumes (30,000 barrels per day) as field completions have been delayed. F) Kuyumba-Taishet; construction; 0.16; 430; Kuyumba field (start- up delayed until 2018); connects to ESPO Pipeline; Planned for 2016, may be delayed or may carry minimal volumes as field completions have been delayed. [Source: U. S. Energy Information Administration based on Transneft, Sakhalin Energy, Caspian Pipeline Consortium, State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, Orlen Lietuva, European Parliament, Nefte Compass, and Platt's Oilgram Price Report]

Russia’s Natural Gas Pipelines

In 2013, Russia's natural gas transportation system included more than 100,000 miles of high-pressure pipelines and 26 underground natural gas storage facilities. Most of Russia's natural gas pipelines were built during the Soviet era, and about 75 percent of the system is more than 20 years old. Since the late 2000s, Gazprom has been adding major new pipelines to accommodate new sources of supply, including fields in Yamal and Eastern Siberia, and new export routes, including exports to China and new pipelines to Europe that avoid Ukraine. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 2015 ~]

The Unified Gas Supply (UGS) system is the collective name for the interconnected western portion of Russia's natural gas pipelines. The UGS system includes domestic pipelines and the domestic portion of export pipelines in European Russia, but it does not include pipelines in eastern Russia. In 2007, the Russian government directed Gazprom to establish an Eastern Gas Program (EGP) to expand gas infrastructure in eastern Siberia and Russia's Far East. The backbone of the EGP is the Power of Siberia pipeline, which is currently under construction. ~

Russia's major natural gas pipelines: Western pipelines (Facility, Status, Capacity (trillion cubic feet per year), Total length (miles), Supply regions, Markets, Details): 1) Yamal-Europe; operating; 1.2; more than 1,000; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Poland, Germany, and northern Europe via Belarus. 2) Blue stream; operating; 0.6; 750; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Turkey via the Black Sea; Started operations in 2003. 3) Nord stream; operating; 1.9; 760; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Germany and northern Europe via the Baltic Sea; Started operations in 2011. 4) Urengoy-Ukhta, Bovanenkovo-Ukhta, and Ukhta-Torzhok; operating and under construction; up to 6.0; more than 1,500; Bovanenkovo field on the Yamal peninsula and Urengoy area fields; Western Russia and Europe; The Urengoy-Ukhta-Torzhok line started operations in 2006. The 1st Bovanenkovo-Ukhta line started operations in 2012. 5) Soyuz and Brotherhood (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod); operating; more than 3.5; more than 2,800; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area, Russian Urals fields, and Central Asia; Western Russia and Europe via Ukraine; First major natural gas export lines to Europe, built and brought online during the Soviet era.. 6) Southern Corridor pipelines; construction; 2.2; Western route - 550 Eastern route - 1,010; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Turkey and Europe via Turkish stream pipeline; Construction on the Western route began in 2012. 7) Turkish stream - line 1; planning; 0.6; more than 500; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Turkey; Announced completion by end of 2016. 8) Turkish stream - lines 2-4; planning; 1.7; more than 500; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Southeast Europe via Turkey; By 2019. 9) South stream; canceled; 2.2; 560 (offshore); West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; Southeast Europe via the Black Sea; Canceled in late 2014 and replaced with Turkish stream. [Source: U. S. Energy Information Administration based on Gazprom, GazpromExport, Sakhalin Energy, World Gas Intelligence, Nefte Compass, RT, and Reuters]

Russia's major natural gas pipelines; Eastern pipeline; (Facility, Status, Capacity (trillion cubic feet per year), Total length (miles), Supply regions, Markets, Details); 1) TransSakhalin; operating; 0.3; 500; Sakhalin fields (offshore northern Sakhalin); Sakhalin LNG plant, Prigorodnoye, southern Sakhalin Island; Started operations in 2008. 2) Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok; operating; 0.2; 1,120; Sakhalin fields (offshore northern Sakhalin); Eastern Russia with potential exports to Asia via proposed Vladivostok LNG or new pipelines; Started operations in 2011. Expandable to 1.1 Trillion cubic feet per year with additional compression. 3) Power of Siberia, phase 1 ("Eastern route" for exports to China); construction; 1.3; 1,370; Chayodinsk field, Yakutia region, East Siberia; Eastern Russia and northeast China; Announced start of late 2017. 4) Power of Siberia (complete route); construction; 2.2; 2,490; East Siberian fields including Chayodinsk in Yakutia region and Kovytka in Irkutsk region; Eastern Russia and northeast China, with potential additional exports to Asia via proposed Vladivostok LNG or new pipelines; 2019 or later. 5) Altai/Western route; planning; 1.1; 1,620; West Siberian fields including Urengoy area; China; 2020 or later. [Source: U. S. Energy Information Administration based on Gazprom, GazpromExport, Sakhalin Energy, World Gas Intelligence, Nefte Compass, RT, and Reuters]

Third-party Access to Natural Gas Pipelines

Gazprom is sole owner of virtually all of Russia's natural gas pipelines. Russia's 1999 Law on Gas Supply requires owners of all gas systems to provide non-discriminatory access to any available capacity with the aim of supplying domestic consumers. Separate regulations established rules for third-party access to the UGS system, but no rules have been established for access to pipelines that are not part of the UGS system. Access to pipeline capacity for exports is not included, as the 2006 Law on Gas Exports grants pipeline export rights exclusively to the owner of the UGS system, which is Gazprom. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 2015 ~]

Despite these long-standing laws, independent natural gas producers, including state-owned oil companies, have only recently begun to get access to some of Gazprom's domestic pipelines. Actions by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) have helped promote better third-party access. Between 2008 and 2011, the FAS brought 28 infringement cases against Gazprom related to third-party access. Third-party gas transported by Gazprom grew from 10 percent of total UGS system throughput in 2009 to almost 17 percent in 2013.59 The FAS has also proposed new laws that would fix many of the deficiencies in the current laws and regulations, including the current lack of regulations for third-party access to pipelines that are not part of the UGS system. Many of the recent disputes over pipeline access have been related to eastern gas pipelines, which are not part of the UGS system. ~

In order to monetize its Sakhalin-1 natural gas resources, Rosneft has proposed to build a Far East LNG export facility at the southern end of Sakhalin Island. However, this proposal depends on Rosneft being able to send its gas through the Gazprom-controlled TransSakhalin natural gas pipeline. Gazprom has repeatedly denied Rosneft access to the pipeline on grounds that there is no available capacity, because Gazprom needs all the capacity to feed its existing Sakhalin-2 LNG plant and the LNG expansion it plans to build. Gazprom, incidentally, would like to buy gas from the Sakhalin-1 project to use as supply for its LNG expansion. Rosneft filed a court case to try to force Gazprom to give it pipeline access, but the court ruled against Rosneft in February 2015. The matter is still under investigation by the FAS, but the Russian government's Audit Chamber has criticized Rosneft's LNG proposal as being more costly than Gazprom's LNG expansion plans. ~

International Pipelines

The main natural gas pipeline, one of the Soviet Union's largest international trade projects, connects the natural gas fields of northern Siberia with most of the countries of Western Europe. Completed in 1984, the line passes nearly 4,000 kilometers across the Ural Mountains, the Volga River, and many other natural obstacles to connect Russian lines with the European system. Also completed in the early 1980s, the Northern Lights natural gas line runs from the Vuktyl field in the Republic of Komi to Eastern Europe. The Orenburg pipeline was built in the late 1970s to bring gas from the Orenburg field in Russia and the Karachaganak field in northern Kazakstan to Eastern Europe. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

Russia believes they control the oil and natural gas market in neighboring mostly former Soviet countries by controlling the pipelines. Russia hopes to cash in the oil and gas deposits in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan by controlling the pipelines that transport oil and gas from these countries. By controlling the flow of oil out Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan and Central Asia, Russia may be able to control over 16 million barrels per day, double Saudi Arabia’s current production. The countries of Central Asia have hatched plans to reduce their dependence on Russian oil infrastructure by constructing alternative pipelines through China, Turkey or Iran. These plans have either failed or been expensive because of the obstacles they have had to overcome.

A new, 4,000-kilometer trans-Siberian oil pipeline was scheduled to begin deliveries to China and the Pacific in 2008 but has been delayed, and a planned Northern European line would bypass Poland and Ukraine to increase Russia’s share of the West European natural gas market. In 2006 Russia agreed with Bulgaria and Greece to expedite construction of a natural gas line connecting Russia’s Black Sea terminal Novorossiysk with Alexandroupolis on the Mediterranean Sea via Burgas. [Source: Library of Congress, October 2006 **]

Major international pipeline include: 1) the 550-mile pipeline between Baku and Batumi in Georgia on the Black Sea; 2) the network of pipelines between the Caspian and Black Seas in the south and the Baltic in the north; and 3) the 3,000-mile Friendship Pipeline between the Volga River and Eastern Europe. A natural gas pipelines run to Moscow and St. Petersburg from Saratov, Stavropol and Kohtla.

International pipeline projects either being worked on or considered include: 1) expanding the pipeline to the Baltics, which is used to supply Europe; 2) a route to Murmansk or Indiga on the Barents Sea in the Arctic.

Oil Pipelines from the Caspian Sea

The deposit of oil and gas in the Caspian Sea are only as good as transportation and delivery system that can carry them out. The pipelines that existed after the collapse of the Soviet Union were not capable of carrying all the oil that the Caspian Sea has, plus the former Soviet republics on the Caspian Sea don't want rely on Russian pipelines. One analyst called pipelines the “Great Game” of the oil business.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Caspian Sea countries were dependant on Russia's pipelines to move the oil. This gave Russia a lot of power over the other Caspian Sea countries. Building pipelines that bypass the Russian system has been key for countries like Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to break free from of Russia’s grip and establish their independence.

Maps of the Caspian Sea are often crisscrossed with lines and doted lines for existing and prosed pipelines. Many of the existing Soviet-era pipelines—plus some that date back Tsarist times— are too old, too decrepit and have to little capacity to be of much use. Plans build new pipelines have to take into consideration a number of challenges: money, corruption, political turmoil, security and terrorism. Building a pipeline requires hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. To reach Europe from the Caspian Sea requires passing through Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Ossetia, Georgia, Armenia or southern Russia— all places that have been racked by lawlessness and political violence since the break up of the Soviet Union.

Rosmarier Forsythe, an American diplomat an expert on international energy issues, wrote: “All the options are complicated, and none is trouble free because they all either pass through politically unstable areas, involve high costs because of distance and terrain or are politically risky because they offend the sensibilities of one or another of the regional owners.”

Proposed pipeline routes go in every direction from the Caspian Sea: southward through Iran to the Persian Gulf: westward through Turkey or the Caucasus rates to the Black Sea or Mediterranean Sea; Northward to other Russian pipelines; and even eastward through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to China.

Lots of pipelines on the drawing boards. Kazakhstan wants to build a pipeline that would run under the Caspian Sea from Aktau, Kazakhstan to Baku, Azerbaijan, which will connect to the BTC pipelines to the Black Sea and Turkey. There is also discussion of building an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan across Iran to the Persian Gulf. This would greatly facilitate the export of oil to Asia. The United States opposes this plan because of Iran’s links to terrorism. Also raised, has been the idea of building a pipeline across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the port of Karachi. Another is through Iran, Pakistan to India.

The United States favors pipelines to the Mediterranean because the oil doesn’t pass through either Russia or Iran. A pipeline to the Mediterranean is good for the American and European markets but has limited use for Asia. Among the main problems with a Mediterranean pipeline are that the Mediterranean is already oversupplied (oil comes from Algeria and Libya and by pipeline from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran) and there are difficulties reaching Asia where there is the strongest demand. To get to Asia, ships have to be small enough pass through the Suez canal or else travel around the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa. A pipeline across Iran would make it easier to reach Asian markets.

Caspian Sea Oil Pipelines to the Black Sea

A direct 1,400-kilometer pipeline between Baku in Azerbaijan and Novorossiysk on the Black Sea in Russia opened in 1997. More or less a refurbishment of an existing pipeline, it passes through Chechnya and Dagestan and allows oil from the Caspian basin to reach the Black Sea, where it can be loaded on tankers for easy delivery to Europe and to the United States. Much of the pipeline was built and paid for by a consortium of 12 mostly Western oil companies developing that oil fields in the Caspian Sea.

The pipeline begins in water that is 200 meters deep and takes in crude from different fields. It can carry crude from the fields in Azerbaijan as well as from tankers that deliver crude from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. The pipeline includes sections of existing pipelines that were refurbished and upgraded.

The pipeline is owned by the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (KTK). The problem with the pipeline is that 150 kilometers of it passes through Chechnya, where it is vulnerable to sabotage and illegal tapping, and tankers that carry the oil have to pass through the Bosporus, which restricts their size.

The Baku-Suspa pipeline goes from Baku to Supsa—a Black Sea port village in western Georgia. It bypasses Chechnya and completed in 1999. There used to a pipeline that ran from Baku through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi but that was closed down in 1932.

Caspian Sea Oil Pipeline to the Mediterranean

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is a 1,120-mile (1,760-kilometer) pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The advantage of this pipeline over ones to the Black Sea is that tankers would not have to pass through the Bosporus. Thus supertankers could load up on oil. Turkey has said it wants to cut down on the tanker traffic through the already crowded Bosporus. It could also bring oil and possibly gas from Kazakhstan. Another advantage is that it bypasses Chechnya.

Dubbed as the world’s largest energy scheme, the pipeline has a capacity of up to 1 million barrels a day and cost $4 billion to build. Financed largely by the BP-led consortium that is currently developing oil in the Caspian Sea, the pipeline is 91 to 117 centimeters in diameter, took 10,000 people to build and has an operation life of 40 years. The oil travels at 7.2 kilometers per hour and passes through the land of 35,000 people, each of who had to give their permission for the pipeline to be built. The pipeline avoids Russia and Armenia. A total of 445 kilometers is in Azerbaijan, 245 kilometers is in Georgia and 1070 kilometers is in Turkey.

The oil is moved through the pipeline by eight pumping stations—two each in Azerbaijan and Georgia and four in Turkey. The speed of flow is monitored by four metering stations, one each in Azerbaijan and Georgia and two in Turkey. The whole pipeline is divided in 88 section, each 20 kilometers long, separated by block valves so the sections can be isolated and cleaned. Environmentalist worry about leakage or the environmental impact of sabotage or a terrorist attack on the pipeline.

The BTC pipeline formally opened in May 2005. The groundbreaking was in September 2002. Construction was originally supposed to start soon after the plan for the pipeline was approved in 1997, however, construction was delayed until the political situation in the Caucasus improved. The pipeline was not be fully operational until the early 2010s.

The Sangachal terminal on the Caspian Sea is south of Baku. It takes in oil from the Gunashi. Chirag and Azery fields and can take oil brought in by tankers from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. There have been proposal be extend it to Kazakhstan. The fact that Ceyhan, where the export terminal in Turkey is, is occasionally rocked by large earthquakes isn’t a problem, planers have said. The section through Turkey and Georgia was built with Turkish money. Security guards monitor the pipeline on horseback in Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Pipeline from Kazakhstan to the Black Sea

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), a new $4 billion pipeline from the Tengiz oil fields of Kazakhstan to the Black Sea, opened in 2001. It goes 1,580 kilometers (948 miles) from Atyrai on the northen coast of the Caspian Sea to the Russian port of Novorossisk on Black Sea. From there the oil goes by tanker through the Bosphorus to the Mediterranean. It bypasses Chechnya by going through Dagestan. The pipeline has a 10 mile link to the Dagestan seaport of Mahachkala, which can take crude from facilities from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The Black Sea pipeline has a carrying capacity of 67 million tons and delivers an average 130,000.barrels a day. Chevron Texaco and Exxon Mobile both have large stakes in this pipeline. The problem with it is that only relatively small ships—60,000 metric tons—are allowed through the Bosphorus. If the oils continues to the United States it is unloaded and reloaded onto a larger ship.

In order to increase the CPS output and delivery range, Kazakhstan has negotiated the use of a newly built pipeline from Odessa in the Ukraine to Brody on the Polish border with an addition to the Polish port of Gdansk, expected to be completed in 2006. This pipeline has a capacity of 67 million tons.

Pipeline from the Caspian Sea to China

Chinese-Kazakhstan consortium is building on a $3.5 billion, 2,900-kilometer-long (1,860 miles long) oil pipeline between Atyrau near the Caspian Sea in western Kazakstan to Alashankou in western China, where it will connect with the pipeline to China’s east coast. The pipeline will initially have a capacity of 400,000 barrels a day and will ultimately have a 800,000 barrels a day.

Oil is great demand in energy-hungry China. The Chinese government is providing money to build it. This pipeline could also be used to transport oil in Siberia to China. The pipe line is being built in three stages. One of the most difficult obstacles will be building the section over the Tien Shan mountains. Construction of the 770-mile-long first stage began in September 2004. Oil started flowing in December 2005 using part of the Russian networks or pipelines.

Pipeline from Siberia to Japan

There are plans to build a 2,500-mile (4,150-kilometer) pipeline—the world's longest—between Angrask and Taychet near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia to the Vostochny, near the Russian port of Nakhodka on the Japan Sea, where oil would shipped by tanker to Japan. The pipeline will be the longest and most expensive ever built. If built it will be three times longer than the trans-Alaska pipeline and carry 1 million barrels a day through its 1.2 meter (four foot) in diameter pipe and increase Russia's oil-carrying capacity by a third. It could take a decade to complete.

The pipeline is expected to cost around $12 billion and has been described as the biggest project in Russia since the Trans-Siberian Railroad. The pipeline was originally supposed to cost only $6 billion but high steel prices, environmental concerns and problems presented by permafrost have pushed up the price. Japan is expected to shoulder 80 percent of the costs and get most of the oil, although a lot will be sold on the open market to any country.

In December 2004, it was decided to switch the terminus of the pipeline from the industrial port of Vostochny to Perevoznaya, a tranquil bay known its wildlife and beaches. It is a popular retreat for people from Vladivostok. The pipeline could go through areas inhabited by rare Amur leopards. Tankers would steam through Russia's only maritime park, a cluster of islands home to 3,000 species of birds. Environmental groups strongly oppose the plan

Work on the pipeline was due to begin in 2005, with the first section from Tayshet to Skovorodino, near the Chinese border, to be completed by 2008. Work however was suspended in 2005 due to ecological concerns. Among them was the fate of the Amur leopard, whose territory would be bisected by the pipeline, and Lake Baikal. Work was ordered halted within 1.6 kilometers of Lake Baikal.

There are still many doubts about the project: foremost among them is whether or not there is enough oil in the Siberian fields to justify such an expensive project. As of May 2010, the pipeline between the East Siberian oil field to Vladivostok was about half done.

Pipeline from Sakhalin to Japan

There are plans to build a 930-mile undersea pipeline to move the gas from Sakhalin Island to Japan. The cost of the pipeline is estimated at $16 billion. Japan has not committed itself to the project. Japan needs the gas but not badly enough to justify paying such a high price. One of the main obstacles for Japan is that its fishermen want to be compensated for losses.

The Sakhalin pipeline will cross 24 major fault lines and more than 200 salmon-spawning rivers. The oil companies have proposes building bridges over seven of the salmon streams. Russian government experts want to see 29 bridge crossings. If the pipeline were to rupture in an earthquake it could cause serious long term damage to these streams.

Russia- China Oil and Gas Pipelines

Much of Russia's oil supply to China comes on trains via the Trans Siberian Railway. Deliveries in 2006 were around 15 million tons, a 25 percent increase from the previous year.

Oil shipments from Russia to China via the pipeline between Skovorodino in eastern Siberia and Daqing in northeastern China began in January 2011. The oil is delivered via a branch pipeline off the pipeline from Angarsk to Nakhodka. The costs of the branch was around $3 billion. The 1,000-kilometer part of the pipeline from oil fields in eastern Siberia pipeline runs between Skovorodino in Russia and Danqing in China through Mohe on the China -Russian border on the Amur River. Russia and China have a 20 year contract with oil supplies beginning at around 15 million tons a year and increasing to 30 million tons a year. The first 704-kilometer section ending in Scovorodino on the Chinese border was built by the Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft, which was having trouble and was behind schedule on some parts of the pipeline because of lack of qualified workers.

When the entire $25 billion, 4,070-kilometer-long pipeline is finished it will be the world's longest. The main section runs in a 2,757-kilometer-long arc above Lake Baikal. Russian Prime Minister Putin said, “For China, this will help stabilize its energy supplies and security. For Russia, this offers a new market for exports to the Asia-Pacific region, especially dynamic and developing China."

Originally CNPC and the Russian oil company Yukos had plans to build a 1,400 mile pipeline to deliver crude from Angrask in eastern Siberia to refineries in Daqing. The oil was expected to begin flowing in 2003 and ultimately supply as much as a third of China's imports by 2030. The plan was given a major setback when Yukos president was jailed in June, 2003 and Japan provided Russia with lucrative financial incentives for an alterative pipeline through Siberia that bypassed China. The Japanese offered to provide $6 billion to cover construction costs and eventually provide billions more via private companies for oil exploration. This was much more than China was willing to offer.

Andrew Higgins wrote in the Washington Post: Transneft eventually started work on a revised version of Yukos's pipeline plan after China came up with a $25 billion loan — and stipulated that the money be repaid with oil by Transneft and Rosneft. The line to China branched off a much longer pipeline that Transneft was building all the way to the Pacific coast to give Russia access to markets in Japan and elsewhere.: It is much shorter and cheaper and easier to build the pipeline proposed by Japan. Focusing on China alone, one Russian said, would be “economically risky” because it would make Russia dependent on a single customer. [Source: Andrew Higgins, December 28, 2011]

When Russia finished building its portion of the China oil pipeline in August 2010, Putin traveled to Skovorodino, near the Chinese border in eastern Siberia, for a celebration. “This project is important for our Chinese friends and for Russia," Putin said. He thanked Russian workers for their “really tremendous achievement” and remarked that China had yet to finish construction of its own — much longer — pipeline to the border with Russia. “Our Chinese friends need to do a little more work," Putin said.

Chinese-Russian Mega Gas Deal on Second Gas Supply Route

In November 2014. reported: “President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have signed a memorandum of understanding on the so-called “western” gas supplies route to China. The agreement paves the way for a contract that would make China the biggest consumer of Russian gas. Russia’s so-called “western” or "Altay" route would supply 30 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year to China. The new supply line comes in addition to the “eastern” route, through the “Power of Siberia” pipeline, which will annually deliver 38 bcm of gas to China. Work on that pipeline route has already begun after a $400 billion deal was clinched in May. [Source:, November 9, 2014]

“After we have launched supplies via the “western route,” the volume of gas deliveries to China can exceed the current volumes of export to Europe,” Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller told reporters, commenting on the deal. “We have reached an understanding in principle concerning the opening of the western route,” Putin said. “We have already agreed on many technical and commercial aspects of this project, laying a good basis for reaching final arrangements.”

Competition Between Japan and China Over Russian Oil and Gas

China and Japan have been courting Russia for a pipeline that would bring oil from eastern Siberia to them. In the fall of 2004, the Russian government made it clear it was going go through with pipeline that help Japan after it offered Russia $7 billion in financing for the pipeline and oil development projects. The Russians prefer this pipeline over the one to China because oil could be sold to a number of buyers—Japan, South Korea, maybe the United States—whereas the pipeline to China involves a single buyer—China—and gives them too much leverage over prices. The Chinese were appeased with the promise that Russia would increase its exports to China by rail by 300,000 barrels a day.

China has had discussions with Exxon Mobile about buying gas from their fields off Sakhalin Island, which Japan assumed was going to go to them. Exxon Mobile is somewhat angry with Japan for not moving faster to build a pipeline from Sakhalin to Japan.

Oil and Natural Gas Ports in Russia

There are at least 20 ports serving as export outlets for Russian hydrocarbons to various markets, including Europe, the Americas, and Asia. Four of these ports together accounted for 85 percent of Russia's seaborne crude exports in 2014. Novorossiysk is Russia's main oil terminal on the Black Sea coast. Its load capacity is more than 1 million barrels per day. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, July 2015 ~]

The Primorsk and Ust-Luga terminals are both located near St. Petersburg, Russia, on the Gulf of Finland. The Primorsk terminal opened in 2006 and has a loading capacity of more than 1.2 million barrels per day.39 The Ust-Luga oil terminal opened in 2009 and has a loading capacity of more than 0.5 million barrels per day. Both Primorsk and Ust-Luga receive oil from the Baltic Pipeline System, which brings crude from fields in the Timano-Pechero, West Siberia, and Urals-Volga regions. Ust-Luga is also a major port for Russian coal and HGL exports. ~

Kozmino is located near the city of Vladivostok, in Russia's far eastern Primorsky province and is the terminus of the ESPO crude oil pipeline. The port opened in December 2009 with an initial capacity of 0.3 million barrels per day. Kozmino initially received crude oil by rail from Skovorodino until the second phase of the ESPO pipeline opened in 2012. In 2015, almost 0.6 million barrels per day is expected to be exported through Kozmino port, slightly below the current capacity. ~

Russia's crude exports by port in 2014 (port, thousand barrels per day): A) Novorossiysk: 1,332; B) Primorsk: 815; C) Ust-Luga: 556; D) Kozmino: 487; E) De Kastri: 161; F) Prigorodnoye: 112; G) Varandey: 101; H) Others: 172. Total: 3,737. [Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration based on Lloyd's List Intelligence (APEX tanker data)]

Pipelines and Oil-Related Pollution in Russia

Soviet and Russian oil extraction has traditionally been very sloppy and produced a lot of pollution. At the vast Tyumen oil fields, located in a vast area of wetlands north of Tomsk, numerous wells leak oil which collects in pools in the marshes. Heats and toxins produced by flaring off methane kills trees and vegetation. One Western oil executive told the New York Times, “You go there, and you are surprised, if not horrified by what you see.”

Environmentalists are concerned about offshore drilling the Sakhalin region. They worry about a major tanker spill and damage caused by the drilling and exploration process. Finland has complained that Russian tankers operating in the Baltic during the winter are not adequately protected against ice. Foreign oil men in western Siberia say they have seen rough necks toss equipment into a lake that could be used to virtually eliminate drilling discharges.

Oil pipelines leaks and accidents are a daily occurrences. Russia averages two oil spills—mostly small ones—every day. Every year a fifth of Russia's oil supply is lost (some to theft and some to leakage). The pipelines rust, split and rupture, releasing oil that seeps into the soil and bodies of water, leeches into ground water and contaminates the environment. Greenpeace estimated that 15 million to tons of crude leaks from Russia's pipeline system every year. This is equal to 375 Exxon Valdez tanker spills. Environmentalist are concerned about the environmental impact of pipelines built from the new oil fields of Central Asia to the Black Sea..

Komi Oil Leaks

In 1995, an oil spill caused by at least 16 ruptures, averaging in two-inches in diameter, along a 32 mile length of a 1,000-mile pipeline between Usinsk, 1,000 miles northeast of Moscow in the Komi Province, resulted in the release of massive amounts of oil. Concerned it could afford to halt production, the oil company kept on pumping oil months after the leak began even though it was aware that large of amount of oil was despoiling the environment.

The pipeline has ruptured many times before and was covered with patches. It is estimated that 750,000 barrels (25 million gallons of oil)—more than twice that of the Exxon Valdez in 1989—leaked from a 20-year-old, badly-corroded pipeline that transported crude oil from the Russian Arctic to a refinery near Usinsk.

It was not clear how much oil leaked out in 1995. High estimates were around two million barrels, eight times the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. The Russians said these estimates were grossly exaggerated. They said the size of the spill was 100,000 barrels. The most likely figure is around 500,000 barrels (100,000 metric tons, 20 million gallons).

The leaks have badly damaged wetlands in Russian Arctic that is a vital habitat for wild animals. The native Komi people claimed the oil has contaminated fish they depend on for food. Describing the damage he observed 250 feet above in a helicopter, Governor Walter Hickel of Alaska wrote in the New York Times, "Oil was caked on stream banks. Despite a recent snowfall, we could see oil bubbling out of leaks in the pipeline, unattended and ignored. Crude containment dikes had been breached by heavy rains. A videotape made before the snowfall showed oil lying on the tundra in black pools the size of football fields...We landed. We walked in the muck. We took samples. Though we had been told a cleanup was under way, we saw no evidence of it."

The company answer to the problem was to build a 25-foot-high dam to contain the oil. The dam eventual broke and a three-foot-deep, 50-foot-wide and seven-mile-long stream of oil spilled all over the tundra and taiga, where it soaked into the permafrost, and flowed into a tributary of the Pechora River, where it affected drinking water supplies and breeding ground for birds and salmon. Only when the pipe ruptured again did the company shut down the pipeline. The cost of the clean up estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Workmen in white overalls slopped up the crude and placed it metal containers. As part of an earlier effort to get rid of one large pool of oil, Russian authorities simply set the oil on fire, producing huge clouds of polluting black smoke. As of the early 2000s, most of the oil that leaked out was still there.

Tanker Explosions

In September 2003, a tanker caught fire and leaked large amounts of oil into the Volga River, near Sozram, 700 kilometers east of Moscow. One person was killed in the explosion that caused the fire on the privately-owned tanker. A huge 15-meter wide oil slick caused by leaked oil drifted down the river. The tanker was carrying 2,000 tons of light crude oil. There were concerns about plants, animals and fish in the Volga.

In September 2004, six people were killed when an oil tanker exploded while it was being unloaded in a village on a river in the republic of Yakutiya. The tanker was carrying 600 to 800 tons of gasoline and 180 tons f oil.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated May 2016

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