Caspian Pipe to Be Expanded by 2012

Russia and Kazakhstan agreed to expand the Chevron-led Caspian Pipeline Consortium to carry as much as 67 million tons of oil by 2012, from 32 million tons currently, the Industry and Energy Ministry said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.

The countries "formed a unified position" on expanding the pipeline in two stages during meetings between Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko and his Kazakh counterpart, Sauat Mynbayev, in Astana the past two days, according to the statement.

Chevron is the largest corporate owner of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium with a 15 percent stake. Russia, the single largest shareholder in the project with 24 percent, has withheld approval for the link's expansion in a dispute over transportation prices. The government of Kazakhstan owns 19 percent.