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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Bypass Pipe Backed

The government on Monday approved expansion of the Baltic Pipeline System, which will allow Russian oil exports to bypass Belarus and go instead to the country's own Baltic Sea port of Primorsk.

Pipeline monopoly Transneft suggested building a pipeline spur to Primorsk after a row in January with the former Soviet neighbor that disrupted oil exports flowing to Europe across Belarussian territory.

On Monday, Transneft reiterated that the new link, which would run on Russian territory to Primorsk and eventually pump 1 million barrels per day, could be completed next year.

"We are starting the feasibility study and hope to launch the new pipeline in 18 months," said Transneft's vice president, Sergei Grigoryev.

The project will boost shipments from Primorsk to 2.5 million bpd from the current 1.5 million bpd, strengthening its position as Russia's top oil export outlet.

It may lead to a reduction or stoppage of shipments now going through the Druzhba pipeline to Germany, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic via Belarus.

Some analysts have said Druzhba could remain idle after the spur to Primorsk is built, given that Russia has in the past halted supplies to Latvia's Ventspils and Lithuania's Butinge.