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    Chinese premier hopes Russia to choose Chinese route for pipeline

    Wed Sep 22, 3:38 AM ET
    MOSCOW (AFP) - China's Premier Wen Jiabao voiced hope that Russia would choose a route to China for a crucial Siberian pipeline now in the works, the Interfax news agency reported.

    "We are convinced that whatever the pipeline's layout, Russia's government and companies would give first priority to the Chinese route, since China is the most stable market for Russia's oil and gas," Wen said in an interview ahead of his visit Thursday to Russia.

    "Before the pipeline is built, we would like to step up supplies of Russian oil, bringing them up to 15 million tonnes in 2006," the prime minister added.

    The construction of an oil pipeline giving energy-thirsty China access to Siberian oil will be one of the main topics for the prime minister's talks in Moscow, China's Ambassador in Russia Liu Guchang said earlier.

    China has strongly lobbied for a pipeline carrying Russian oil from Siberia through to Chinese territory but Moscow is believed to be leaning towards a rival pipeline that would run to Nakhodka on the Sea of Japan.

    China, a net importer of petroleum products since 1993 and of crude oil since 1996, is reliant on overseas producers for one third of its supplies and in turn accounts for about seven percent of world oil demand.