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    Russia to launch 1st leg of ESPO pipeline on Dec. 25, 2009

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    The first leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline will come on stream on December 25, 2009, the head of the Transneft pipeline operator announced on Tuesday.

    MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti) - The first leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline will come on stream on December 25, 2009, the head of the Transneft pipeline operator announced on Tuesday.

    "There are grounds to assume we will succeed," Nikolai Tokarev told reporters.

    Tokarev said the budget for the first leg of the ESPO project had been approved in the amount of 390 billion rubles ($12.5 billion).

    The ESPO pipeline is designed to pump up to 1.6 million barrels of crude per day from Siberia to Russia's Far East and then on to energy-hungry China and the Asia-Pacific region. A 1,100-kilometer (680-mile) stretch of the pipeline was opened in early October in Russia's Far Eastern republic of Yakutia.

    ESPO's first stage envisages the construction of a 2,757-kilometer (1,713-mile) section with a capacity of 30 million tons (220.5 million barrels) of oil per year. It will link Taishet, in East Siberia's Irkutsk Region, to Skovorodino, in the Amur Region, in Russia's Far East.

    The second stretch will run 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles) from Skovorodino to the Pacific. It will pump 367.5 million barrels of oil annually.

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