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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakh PM Blames Russia For Delays in CPC Opening

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — Kazakhstan's prime minister told Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko he was worried by delays to opening a key new oil pipeline and blamed Russia for the holdup, the Kazakh government said Friday.

But Khristenko replied that Russia had not been notified of any delays, which would cut its own budget revenues.

The Caspian Pipeline Consortium line, running from Kazakhstan's huge Tengiz oil field to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, was due to open Aug. 6, but CPC warned that oil to fill a tanker would not be ready, and the opening ceremony was put off.

The line is the first to link Kazakhstan's huge oil reserves direct to international markets. Most Kazakh oil exports now go through the Russian trunk pipeline system.

"[Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymzhomart] Tokayev expressed his concern in connection to the delay in opening the Tengiz-Novorossiisk pipeline because of the negative position of the Russian side to an agreement on transport of oil within the framework of CPC," the government information service said.

Khristenko told a news briefing after meeting Tokayev that Russia had a "mercantile" interest in the pipeline opening and had no reason for slowing it up.

"Already the delays so far — are a direct loss to the Russian budget. Everything necessary for removing difficulties on the Russian side will be done … but the Russian government has no official information on the change of date," he said.

He pointed out that Russia is a shareholder in the pipeline and so will receive both a transit fee as the host country, and a return as a shareholder, only when oil starts flowing.