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Russia to start oil supplies to China via Kazakhstan

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Russia will start supplies of up to 5 million metric tons (36.7 million barrels) of oil per year to China via Kazakhstan from 2008, the industry and energy minister said on Monday.

"Following bilateral talks, the parties signed a protocol on Kazakhstan and Russia's oil transit in 2008. Under the protocol, Russia will for the first time start supplying 5 million metric tons of oil per year to China via Kazakhstan," Viktor Khristenko said.

Khristenko, who attended a session of the inter-governmental commission for Russian-Kazakh cooperation in the Central Asian country's capital Astana, said energy was a key element of bilateral relations, and that large-scale projects have been made possible by the strong interaction between the states.

In particular, the parties are concluding preparations for an inter-governmental agreement on a Caspian natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline from Turkmenistan, to run along Kazakhstan's Caspian coastline to Russia, is designed to pump 10-20 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe via Russia's pipeline network, and is a rival project to a Western-backed trans-Caspian pipeline bypassing Russia. - RIA Novosti

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