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Kazakh diversification of oil routes not against Moscow - speaker

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ALMATY, April 20 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan's drive to diversify its pipeline routes is not aimed at Russia's interests, the Kazakh senate speaker said Friday.

The oil-rich Central Asian country exports 52 million tons (381.2 million barrels) of oil annually, mostly through Russia, but a goal set by President Nursultan Nazarbayev to double exports by 2012-2015 has prompted the government to look for ways to diversify its pipeline routes.

"We are clear and consistent in our commitments to Moscow, which must not be violated. But at the same time, we are sure that there must be an alternative in constructing pipelines [for transporting Kazakh hydrocarbons]," Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev said.

"Many countries are interested in energy fuels from Kazakhstan, and this is also an issue of general policy, because the more pipelines the better for Kazakhstan's strategic interests," the official said.

Kazakhstan transports its oil to world markets through the Caspian Pipeline Consortium pipeline via Russia and through the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline to China.

The country has also joined the Baku-Ceyhan project linking Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and announced its intention to join the Odessa-Brody project bringing oil from Ukraine to Poland.

Nazarbayev said earlier in the month that the country's choice of pipeline routes was based exceptionally on economic profit.

"If it is advantageous to transport oil through Russia, we will go in this direction. If we feel that transportation through Baku-Ceyhan is $15 cheaper, we will follow that direction. And if both options turn difficult, we will reach out to China," he said.

But the president stressed that Kazakhstan had never acted against Russia's interests while working with the United States, or against the U.S. and Europe while working with Russia and China.

He said the country is interested in having a wide option of routes by the time it grows into "one of the largest oil suppliers to the global market in 2012-2015."

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