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. Russia Gives Green Light To Siberia-Pacific Pipeline


Moscow (AFP) Nov 28, 2005
Russian environment ministry experts have given the green light for the building of an oil pipeline linking Siberia with the Pacific Ocean, the Itar-Tass news agency reported Monday.

The proposed route of the pipeline, which will run along the shores of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, to an unspoiled bay, has raised fears among environmentalists.

The plans, put forward by the Russian Transneft company, are to be examined by the federal ecological, technical and atomic supervision service, which should report its findings next month.

In September the deputy head of the state ecological control agency, part of the environment ministry, said the project threatened the world's biggest fresh water reserve and should be reexamined.

"The environment ministry and the Transneft oil company should talk about it soon," said Oleg Mitvol, adding that he was "very worried" about the future of Lake Baikal, classified by UNESCO in 1996 as a World Heritage Site.

The plan was attacked by environmentalists in Moscow earlier this month. The pipeline, some 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles) long, will "pass in some places within less than a kilometre of Lake Baikal" in Siberia, according to Mikhail Kreindlin of Greenpeace.

Transneft said in July that work on the pipeline should begin in December.

The pipeline will run from Taishet in Siberia's Irkutsk region to Perevoznaya in the Pacific, with 44 oil-pumping stations in between, and could transport up to 80 million tonnes a year for shipments to China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Australia.

The project is estimated to cost 15 billion dollars, although some analysts have forecast a price of 16 billion dollars and possibly more.

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