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    Russia, Kazakhstan agree to double pipeline capacity by 2012

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    MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to double the capacity of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) by 2012, the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry said on Wednesday.

    The decision was agreed during a visit to the ex-Soviet republic by Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko on May 6 and 7.

    "It [the expansion] should take place in two stages by 2012. As a result the pipeline's capacity will be increased from 32 million to 67 million metric tons of oil," the ministry said in a statement.

    The parties also agreed to supply an extra 17 million metric tons of Kazakh oil through the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline. The trans-Balkan oil pipeline, being built by Russia, Bulgaria, and Greece, will pump 35 million metric tons of oil a year (257.25 million bbl), a volume that could eventually be increased to 50 million metric tons (367.5 million bbl).

    The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC), designed to carry Kazakh and Russian crude to a terminal on the Black Sea, was commissioned in October 2001. Its capacity currently stands at around 30 million metric tons of oil a year.

    Ten pumping stations, six oil tanks for 100,000 cubic meters each and another tanker facility will have to be built for the pipeline to reach its full capacity.

    The two countries will hold expert consultations on the issue later in May. The feasibility study for the pipeline project expires in September 2008.

    Russia's pipeline operator Transneft is a beneficial owner of a 24% stake in the CPC, and Kazakhstan holds 19%.

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