Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took part in the opening ceremony of the Russian section in the Russia-China oil pipeline, which took place in Russia's Far Eastern Amur region on Sunday, RIA Novosti reported.
At the beginning of the opening ceremony Putin called the pipeline a multidimensional project to step up Moscow-Beijing energy cooperation. "This is vital project for us as we diversify deliveries of our strategic raw materials. Thus far, we made the major deliveries to Europe...The Asia-Pacific region received unsubstantial volumes," Putin said.
Setting the pipeline in operation will change the situation dramatically, the premier emphasized. "We will deliver 30 million tons of oil and, in case of expansion, 50 million tons to the Asia-Pacific Region."
"The implementation of this project is a crucial task for Russia and our Chinese friends. It means stabilization of supplies and energy balance for China, and for us it creates entry to new challenging markets, in this particular case, to the growing market of China," Putin said at the ceremony.
The project is part of the East Siberia - Pacific oil pipeline, which was launched into operation in December 2009 and is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels (220,000 tons) of crude per day from Siberia to the Far East and then on to China and the Asia-Pacific region.
The Russia-China pipeline will stretch from the town of Skovorodino in the Amur region to the city of Daqing in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province.
"I recall how Chinese President Hu Jintao broached the issue of the project's implementation in time of one of his visits to Moscow. We were then discussing the rout of the project, were the pipeline would lie: to the north or to the south of the Lake Baikal," Putin said at the opening ceremony.
He emphasized that both Russia and China have known that the issues are complicated but all of them would be successfully resolved.
"I hope, our Chinese friends will tell the Chinese president and the prime minister about the fact... that the project has been accomplished in Russia. But Chinese friends will have to work for a while. Major efforts are ahead for them - 930 kilometers [of the pipeline] should be put up, these are high-technology operations," Putin said.
"But I am absolutely confident that Russian oil will enter China this year," he added.
In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the construction of the pipeline would be finished by the end of the year and become fully operational in 2011.
Russia's largest oil company Rosneft, oil pipeline monopoly Transneft and China's state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) are partners in the project. In line with the contract, the Chinese side provided the Russian companies with a $25-billion loan to construct the pipeline. In exchange, the Russian side agreed to pump 15 million tons of oil per year via the pipeline in 2011-2030.