Oil supported in Far East pipeline: Power outages slow Russia’s pivot to China

After the attack on Ukraine, Russia has been sending huge amounts of oil and gas to China. But the power grid in Siberia and the Far East is ill-equipped to handle these volumes – and is breaking down due to overload.

After the attack on Ukraine, Russian raw material supplies in many cases have only one destination: China. Moscow has lost many partners in the West, but the People’s Republic is happy to buy cheap oil and gas. Russia is ready to play the discount gas station: they are happy to increase their oil supply for the development of the Chinese economy. explained Russian President Vladimir Putin supported his counterpart Xi Jinping when he visited Moscow in March.

But it will not be as easy as Putin promised. Gazprom’s end as a global gas supplier appears to be sealed, as there is no new pipeline for further supplies to China, which Beijing is completely unwilling to recognize. Russia also cannot supply more oil, because in this case, too, the existing infrastructure in the Far East is a bottleneck. The reported Independent Russian exile media The Bell.

43 water stations require electricity

China receives oil through the East Siberia-Pacific Pipeline. The pipeline runs about 2,700 kilometers from Taishet in central Siberia to the city of Skovorodino in the Amur region on the border with China. On top of that Way there The steel monster meanders through earthquake zones, crossing huge differences in elevation and multiple climate zones.

The pipeline finally splits at Skovorodino: the first line has been transporting oil to the Chinese city of Daking since 2010. A second, much longer strand was completed in 2012 and ends 2,000 kilometers later in the Sea of ​​Japan at the Pacific port of Kozmino near Vladivostok. There the oil is loaded onto ships and distributed around the world.

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Theoretically anyway, because there are more problems along the way: there are the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Pipeline 70 to 150 km distance A total of 43 pumping stations have to be crossed when oil flows to China or the Pacific. At these stations it is “pushed” in a controlled manner, so that the sticky mass reliably reaches its destination with new speed. But as The Bell reports, state pipeline operator Transneft must turn off the pumps’ electric motors more often because the power grid in the Far East is overloaded.

25 power cuts in nine months

In recent months, Russia has gradually increased its supply to China to compensate for the loss of European business. The previous high was reached in February via the East Siberia-Pacific Pipeline, transit country Kazakhstan, and oil tankers. 2 million barrels per day provided. Financial services provider S&P Global drew this from import data from Chinese customs. According to Russian state agency Interfax, around 619,000 barrels per day.

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However, increasing the delivery volume further does not seem feasible due to infrastructure limitations. According to The Bell, Transneft’s documents show oil flows to China have already been halted 25 times in the first nine months of this year due to disruptions and power outages. In contrast, only 17 blackouts occurred in the region from 2020 to 2022. Transneft blames Russian railways for this, which has also increased rail traffic to China since the start of the war.

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“Railway network is overburdened”

The disruptions are still causing relatively minor problems: 17,000 tons of oil did not arrive in China at the agreed time this year, according to Transneft data. That’s the equivalent of 2,319 barrels, a fraction of the volume that flows through the East Siberia-Pacific Pipeline every day.

The problem, however, is that Russia has only just begun its hub for the Far East: Russian Railways wants to further expand its capabilities so that it can transport more freight to and from China. However, additional rail traffic will put further pressure on the power infrastructure in large parts of the Pacific and Siberia. Transneft already fears pipeline problems will escalate.

But not increasing rail traffic is not an option: “The railway network is overloaded,” a Russian China expert warned months ago, according to The Bell. He reports endless traffic jams on the rails to China and the Pacific.

Russian energy supplier Rossetti wants to change this and next year Four billion euros Invest in power grids in Siberia and the Far East. A Russian focus on the East is expensive fun.

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