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Russia picks Japan for Siberia-Asia Pacific oil pipeline

TOKYO (AFX) - The Russian government has chosen to run a planned new oil pipeline opening its huge eastern Siberian fields up to the Asia-Pacific market via Japan rather than China, Moscow's ambassador to Tokyo said.

"A decision has been taken within our government," ambassador Alexander Lossiukov told Agence France-Presse after a business gathering in Tokyo

"The pipeline will be built as far as Nakhodka," a Russian seaport of the Sea of Japan and close to the Japanese border, he said

The decision will be officially announced in the coming months once financial details have been ironed out, Lossiukov added

According to Russian sources, Japan has agreed to finance the entire cost of the 4,000-kilometer pipeline

"It's more advantageous for us to build on our own territory and to handle the marketing ourselves than to send everything to another country and in a sense, depend entirely on it. "That's the principle behind the operation of any pipeline -- it's preferable to have it on one's own territory and to dispose of everything running through it oneself," Lossiukov said

A Japanese foreign ministry official said only that Tokyo had not officially been notified by the Moscow that the Nakhodka route has been selected

"We know that there is such information as (Lossiukov) has just said but officially we haven't received any information from the Russian government confirming that they have just chosen the route to Nakhodka

"Of course the Japanese side is in favour of having the route to Nakhodka but we haven't received any confirmation from the Russian government," the official added

China has been lobbying hard for Russia to run the Siberia link along a 2,400-km pipe to Daqing, northeastern China, instead

Lossiukov said China is currently being supplied with Russian oil by rail, and that, "if resources allow, a second pipeline will probably be built to China."

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