|People attend the inauguration ceremony of China and Russia crude oil pipeline in Mohe, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jan. 1, 2011. The nearly 1, 000 km-long China and Russia crude oil pipeline starts its full operation here on January 1st 2011 and it will carry 15 million tons of crude oil annually from Russian oilfields into China in the next 20 years from 2011 to 2030. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)
MOHE, Heilongjiang, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- An oil pipeline linking Russia's far east and northeast China began operating Saturday.
At 11:50 a.m., Yao Wei, general manager of the Pipeline Branch of Petro China Co., Ltd. (PBPC), pushed a button in the China-Russia border county of Mohe, Heilongjiang Province, five hours after the crude oil began being pumped through the pipeline to the border, marking the official start of operations after a two-month trial.
PBPC is the operator of the Chinese section of the pipeline.
The pipeline, which originates in the Russian town of Skovorodino in the far-eastern Amur region, enters China via Mohe and ends at China's northeastern city of Daqing. As 550,000 tonnes of crude oil had already traveled through the pipeline during the test run period, the Daqing terminal receives the oil 15 minutes after Yao pushed the button at Mohe.
"The operation of the China-Russia crude oil pipeline is the start of a new phase in China-Russia energy cooperation," Yao said at the launching ceremony.
He noted that the pipeline would improve the nation's energy-imports structure and promote economic development.
Sergey Tsyplakov, Russian trade representative in China, also said in early December that the completion of the pipeline project was a "milestone" for the development of both countries.
Construction of the 1,000-km-long pipeline project, with 72 km within Russia and 927 km in China, started last year, and it will transport 15 million tonnes of crude oil from Russia to China annually between 2011 to 2030, according to the agreement signed between the two countries.
This volume of oil means adding 8 billion U.S. dollars to the trade volume between China and Russia, and the import tariffs for China on the oil will be up to 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars), according to the projection by Chinese customs officials based on the current international crude oil price.
Yao said that after the oil arrives at Daqing's Linyuan Station it will enter the Pipeline Networks of Northeast China and be pumped to oil refineries in Dalian, Fushun and other cities.
Luo Xuefeng, director with the entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau of Mohe, said workers with the bureau would take daily oil samples to monitor the quality of the oil.
"So far, the pumped oil is qualified as regulated in the agreement," Luo said.
The annual amount of oil shipped through the pipeline could increase, depending on the drilling capacity in Russia, said Tsyplakov.
Further, Li Fuchuan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the operation of the oil pipeline would not only increase the crude trade, but also improve mutual trust between China and Russia, laying an economic foundation for the two countries' strategic partnership.
Zhang Shibin, deputy manager of the PBPC Daqing branch, said although the operation has worked well during the trial period, measures need to be performed to prevent pipes from cracking in May.
"The pipe will face an 'important test' in May as snow and ice will melt at that time, bringing challenges to us. We will try to ensure its smooth operation," he said.