Russia may delay the launch of its first oil pipeline to China for a year to September 2009, Interfax news agency quoted a source as saying on Friday.
“Transneft suggests putting off the launch by a year,” Interfax quoted what it said was a government source as saying.
“There is a certain construction technology: if they don’t manage to commission the oil pipeline by September 2008, the next possible term is September 2009, no later,” the source told Interfax.
Transneft, Russia’s oil pipeline monopoly, was not immediately available for comment.
Interfax also quoted the source as saying that Transneft had submitted the proposal to the Energy Ministry.
Plans had called for Transneft to commission the first 600,000-barrel-per-day section of the $11 billion pipeline by the end of next year.
But in November, Trans-neft said inspections had confirmed serious construction delays mainly due to a lack of qualified workers.
The firm said the first phase of the pipeline was 41 per cent complete, instead of a projected 60 per cent.
Pumping stations were 24 per cent ready instead of 56 per cent.
The newly appointed head of Transneft, Nikolai Tokarev, however, said that supplies to China would begin on time.

Sakhalin: Permission denied
ExxonMobil was denied permission by Russia to start work on a natural gas pipeline to China from its Sakhalin-1 development this year, as Gazprom seeks to preserve its monopoly on Russian gas exports.
Russia also refused to allow Exxon to invest in drilling oil deposits discovered near the Sakhalin-1 boundaries, the country’s Energy Ministry said in a statement posted on its web site yesterday. Russia approved a 2008 budget of $1.26 billion for Sakhalin-1 instead of the $1.84 billion sought by Exxon.
The higher figure included spending on the gas pipeline and drilling for the contested oil resources.

(Gulf News)