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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pipelines Are Worn Out, Watchdog Says

The government's technical standards watchdog warned on Thursday that almost all the country's oil and gas pipelines were in critical condition, a possible sign of more shutdowns after the closure of a link to Lithuania.

"Russia's pipeline transport is in an unsatisfactory state. Environmental damage caused by oil and gas pipelines is inexcusable," said Konstantin Pulikovsky, the head of the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection, which reports directly to Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Pulikovsky said in a statement that safety measures conducted by pipeline owners were insufficient and the service planned to strengthen its control over the pipeline system.

The service said most pipelines in Russia were built in the 1960s and 1970s and more than 40 percent of the trunk pipelines are over 30 years old, making them prone to corrosion. More than 30 accidents have happened this year, mainly due to exposure and corrosion, the statement said.

In July, Transneft shut down a branch of the Druzhba pipeline to Lithuania, disrupting crude exports to the Baltic country and forcing the region's only refinery, Mazeikiu Nafta, to use more expensive sea supplies.