China to complete Russia oil, gas pipeline sections by end-2018: vice governor

BEIJING (Reuters) - China is expected to complete the sections of the massive Russian oil and gas pipelines that lie in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang by the end of next year, a top provincial official said on Friday.

The oil pipeline, from Mohe at the Russian border to the city of Daqing, is the China leg of the second East Siberia Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO) project that pumps Russian crude oil to China, with an annual capacity of 15 million tonnes.

Li Haitao, vice governor of Heilongjiang said China has also started laying the domestic portion of a Russia-China natural gas pipeline, dubbed “Power of Siberia”, that has a planned annual capacity of 38 billion cubic meters.

“We expect both the oil and gas pipelines to be ready for operation around end of 2018,” Li told reporters at the Belt and Road Forum, a government-organized event that gathers 29 nations to promote China’s ambitious Silk Road project to expand trade and investment.

Both pipelines are being built by state energy giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) [CNPET.UL].

The first ESPO pipeline has been sending 15 million tonnes a year Russian crude oil to China since 2011. CNPC has said the Power of Siberia gas pipeline will start delivering gas to China in 2019.

Li said the focus for his province’s Silk Road efforts would be expanding trade and investment with Russia.

China is also planning a joint venture refinery and petrochemical complex in Russia near the Chinese border with an estimated investment of 6 billion yuan ($870 million), with a privately-run Chinese firm leading that investment, said Li.

“A pipeline will be built to supply refined fuel back to China,” Li added, without giving further details.

The private firm investing in the petrochemical plant, Tianlangxing Power Equipment Co Ltd, has already built two solar power plants in Russia and building a third one, said Li.

Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue