July 11, 2013 / 12:11 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Russia to lift oil exports to Asia at expense of Europe

* Pacific port Kozmino to ship 30 mln tonnes of oil in 2014

* Kozmino to export 21 million tonnes this year

* Russian oil output seen stable over next three years (Adds details, background)

By Olesya Astakhova

MOSCOW, July 11 (Reuters) - Russia, making a strategic shift towards fast-growing Asian markets, said on Thursday it would ramp up eastbound oil exports next year, squeezing supplies to Europe as production is expected to plateau in the years ahead.

In so doing, the Kremlin is staking a claim to the dynamic Asia-Pacific region while also boosting the price it can command in Europe for its Urals Export Blend crude which now often trades at a premium to North Sea benchmark Brent.

Deputy Energy Minister Kirill Molodtsov said that Russia, the world's top oil producer, planned to increase oil exports via the Pacific port of Kozmino to 30 million tonnes (600,000 barrels per day) next year from the 21 million tonnes expected to be shipped this year.

"The balance between West and East will change," Molodtsov told reporters, without specifying the expected impact on exports to Europe.

Russia, the world's second-largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia, ships around 3.5 million barrels per day (bpd) to Europe, about a third of its total crude output.

Together with its export pipeline to China and East Siberia-Pacific Ocean route to Kozmino, Russia will export around 750,000 barrels per day to Asia in July-September, or 17 percent of its overall exports of 4.4 million bpd.

That shift reflects a long-term bet in particular on growing demand in China, the world's No.2 oil consumer after the United States. Chinese oil demand is forecast to grow by 3.9 percent to around 10.3 million bpd in 2014, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday.

SUPPLY SOURCES

Last month, Russia's top oil producer Rosneft agreed to more than double oil shipments to China and has already increased plans for crude supply in the third quarter at the expense of Europe.

But the main question remains on how Russia will secure additional supplies to Asia, as it hopes to keep crude output stable at over 10 million bpd in the years ahead.

Molodtsov forecast Russian oil production at 518-520 million tonnes (10.40-10.44 million bpd) over the next three years. That is a touch below June oil output of 10.53 million bpd - a post-Soviet high.

Apart from curbing supplies to the weak European market, additional oil flows to Asia will be supported by increases in production from Rosneft and Surgutneftegas along with small companies, he said.

Kozmino's annual capacity is 30 million tonnes, meaning Russia will need to expand the port built in 2009 or use swap operations with neighbouring countries like Kazakhstan, for example, if it wants to ship more oil to Asia.

In the first half of the year, the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline terminal exported 10.6 million tonnes of oil, with the bulk going to Japan.

The pipeline, which branches south to the Chinese border at the town of Skovorodino and was financed by a Chinese loan secured against future exports, is key to securing a share of growing Asian markets for Russian producers, which are major contributors to the state budget. (Reporting by Olesya Astakhova; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mark Potter)

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