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    SECOND PHASE OF BALTIC PIPELINE SYSTEM TO BE COMMISSIONED IN MARCH

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    MOSCOW, February 20, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The second phase of the Baltic Pipeline System will be commissioned in March 2004 to pump 42 million tons of oil, Transneft CEO Semyon Vainshtok reported to the Russian president.

    Over the past three years, Russia has built a new oil terminal, Primorsk, which is equal to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk in capacity, emphasised Mr Vainshtok.

    Mr Vainshtok said if he were to choose between Novorossiisk and Primorsk, he would have chosen the latter as it worked 364 days a year unlike Novorossiisk, which did not operate 80-90 days a year due to adverse weather conditions.

    President Putin emphasised that Novorossiisk should not be neglected either.

    Mr Vainshtok responded, saying that 47 million tons of oil were delivered through Novorossiisk this year against 32 million tons in 1999, the increase that did not require considerable investment.

    The president praised the emergence of the second oil terminal. "This diversification is important as we have to develop the pipeline transport to satisfy growing oil production, the domestic market's and our foreign partners' demands," said President Putin.

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