Ex-Transneft Boss Voices Pipe Worries

Semyon Vainshtok, Transneft's former chief executive, said a planned oil pipeline circumventing Belarus was a "political" move to secure crude exports, according to an interview published Thursday in Kommersant.

The pipeline to the Baltic Sea would be "100 percent unprofitable" and useful only if Belarus disrupts transit shipments, Vainshtok said in the interview. Russia ships about 103 million tons (2 million barrels) of oil per year across Belarus, or 41 percent of exports, the newspaper said.

Vainshtok also said the East Siberian-Pacific Ocean pipeline could be launched on time, calling the deadline "absolutely realistic," Interfax reported.

"The project should have been up and running as early as October 2008," Vainshtok said.

The longer a big project takes to complete, the more expensive it gets.

Bloomberg, MT