Transneft Rebuffs Green Fears

SAMSUN, Turkey -- Crude oil pipeline monopoly Transneft wants to bolster its planned pipeline to the Pacific coast with an oil refinery, despite objections from green groups and a Russian minister.

"We have submitted a proposal to build an oil refinery at the end point of the pipeline at Perevoznaya," said Transneft chairman Semyon Vainshtok in Turkey on Thursday.

The firm already has plans for an oil terminal at Perevoznaya Bay on the Pacific Ocean as part of a strategic pipeline project that aims to pump East Siberian oil to giant East Asian markets.

Vainshtok said exporting refined oil products was more profitable than exporting crude oil, so building a refinery made sense. A consortium of Russian companies could build the plant, and Transneft would give them a share of access to the pipeline.

The refinery proposal is likely to further enrage green activists who say Perevoznaya is a pristine bay where construction of an pipeline pumping 1.6 million barrels of oil per day could cause huge damage.

The environmental lobby got support on Thursday from Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev, who strongly attacked the chosen terminal location in a newspaper interview. "We think that the choice of Perevoznaya Bay as the end point of the pipeline is wrong-headed and unproven," Trutnev told state-run Rossiiskaya Gazeta.