Russia halts oil supply to China after earthquake: company

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Russian oil transport monopoly Transneft on Friday temporarily stopped oil deliveries to China after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit Russia's Far Eastern Amur region.

"We have stopped freight shipment as well as pumping (oil) to China," Transneft spokesman Igor Dyomin told AFP. The 6.1 earthquake's epicentre was 130 kilometres (80 miles) southwest of the city of Tynda, according to the US Geological Survey.

He said there was no visible damage to the terminal and station at Skovorodino, which is used by Transneft to export oil to China via the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO).

"Teams are walking along the pipeline with inspections," Dyomin said. "We are expecting more shocks." He added that this was the first earthquake to disrupt the pipeline's operation since it was completed last year.

The earthquake hit at 4:10 local time (0410 GMT) near Russia's border with China. Russia's emergencies ministry said there were no reports of casualties or damage.

Transneft began exporting oil via the Skovorodino terminal in January 2011 together with oil company Rosneft. The pipeline can pump 15 million tonnes of oil per year, or 41 thousand tonnes per day.

Under the contract, Russia is to deliver 15 million tonnes annually over 20 years at market rate, although the two countries have argued over pricing and discussed the rate during Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's recent state visit.

© 2011 AFP

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