Gazprom Neft asks to send more oil to China

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Gazprom Neft SIBN.MM, the oil arm of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MM, has asked to ship 1.08 million tonnes of crude to China throughout the last three quarters of the year, it told Reuters on Wednesday.

Gazprom Neft asked Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft TRNF_p.RTS to send 360,000 tonnes each in quarters 2, 3 and 4 of this year through its new pipeline to China via Kazakhstan.

Russia began exports through the pipeline in the first quarter of this year after tough talks between Transneft and neighboring Kazakhstan on the transit rules continued throughout all of last year.

BP BP.L's Russian arm TNK-BP TNBPI.RTS and Gazprom Neft together shipped 300,000 tonnes in the first quarter of this year through the link.

The start of Russian oil flows via the Kazakh link comes as Transneft has signaled it could postpone the startup of its own $12 billion first link to China from the end of 2008 due to slow construction works.

Russia has said it is keen to conquer the Asian energy markets with new oil and gas pipelines, but Europe will remain its top priority for the decades to come.

Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman