From: Associated Press
Published July 1, 2005 12:00 AM

Russia Halts Surveying on Pacific Oil Pipeline Skirting World's Biggest Freshwater Lake

MOSCOW — Russia's natural resources ministry said Thursday that surveying work for an oil pipeline to Asian markets had been halted around Lake Baikal, the world's biggest freshwater lake, over ecology fears.


In a statement, deputy natural resources minister Valentin Stepankov said that surveying work had been conducted outside the limits specified in government approved guidelines and trees had been felled illegally.


Stepankov sent a letter to Greenpeace Russia, thanking the environmental group for helping to monitor the surveying work.


When complete, the pipeline will pump oil from Siberia to lucrative markets in Japan and other parts of Asia.


The project has already drawn fire from environmental groups. As well as its proximity to Baikal, it envisions an oil terminal on the shore of the Perevoznaya Bay on the Pacific Coast, which ecologists warn would create the risk of major oil spills in a pristine area that is home to popular beaches, fishing grounds and rich marine life.


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The planned 1.6 million barrels per day pipeline will follow a route from the town of Tayshet in Siberia's Irkutsk region to Skovorodino in the Amur region.


From there, crude will be piped east to the port of Perevoznaya in the Primorye region on the Pacific coast, with a possible branch south to China. Beijing is lobbying hard to secure the main pipeline from Skovorodino.


Source: Associated Press


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