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The Wall Street Journal: Russia Is Urged to Build Pipeline

February 28, 2007

TOKYO — Japanese ministers urged Russia yesterday to push ahead with a proposed trans-Siberian pipeline that will carry oil and gas to the Pacific coast to feed Japan, saying Tokyo is prepared to pay part of the construction cost.

Finance Minister Koji Omi also urged a visiting Russian delegation including Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to supply energy from a major project in Siberia recently taken over by Russia’s state-controlled natural-gas monopoly.

Japan, which is almost entirely dependent on imports for its oil and gas, has been scrambling to secure access to Russia’s reserves to reduce its dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

But a decision by Russia to run the proposed 4,300-kilometer oil pipeline close to its border with China has stoked Japanese fears that Moscow will favor Beijing and not extend the pipeline to the Pacific coast as quickly as planned.

Japan also expressed concern after state-controlled natural-gas monopoly Gazprom wrested control of the giant Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Siberia from an international consortium last year, consolidating the Kremlin’s command over national energy resources.

During a meeting between Japanese and Russian ministers on yesterday, Trade Minister Akira Amari said he welcomed the planned pipeline from inner Siberia to the Pacific coast, according to a Foreign Ministry official who briefed reporters.

Copyright © 2007 Associated Press

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