Saturday, December 8, 2007

Siberian Pipeline

As larger and larger oil fields have been discovered in the cold but beautiful Siberian region of Russia, China has watched, anxiously hoping to be first in line. Being the largest neighbor possessing an enormous population with gargantuan petroleum needs, China has tried its best to show Russian leaders that is in their best interests to export nearly all of their excess petroleum to the southeast via a proposed petroleum pipeline that would be constructed solely for distribution from these generous oil fields to China’s oil-needy populace.

Construction of this pipeline has met a few snags along the way however. Scientists and environmentalists alike have balked at the proposed route of the petroleum carrying line because of its proximity to protected and sensitive areas. The initial, shortest and most direct route proposed by the Transneft Corporation would begin in the Siberian city of Taysher in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, running through Skovorodino in the Amur region, and ending at the port of Perevoznaya in the Promorye region on the Pacific coast. This route would take the pipeline within 800 meters of the shores of the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lakes, Lake Baikal. Lake Baikal is the world’s oldest lake as well and contains nearly 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater reserve. In 1996, it was pronounced a site of World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), beseeching Russian leaders to provide for its preservation and protection from development and urbanization. Scientists want it protected as it is an exquisite representation of freshwater habitat, possessing an ecosystem that is of exceptional value in the area of evolutionary science.

Construction of the first stage of the pipeline began in June of 2006 and should be complete by early 2008. The first stage will not bring the pipeline into the Lake Baikal region yet, and has provided time for new answers and resolutions to the questions involving that area. Environmentalists prescribed a solution that Transneft head Semyon Vaynshtok said was out of the question. Vaynshtok proclaimed the idea of taking the pipeline 1000 kms to the north ludicrous, saying that it would make the pipeline unprofitable with that roundabout route. Scientists and environmentalist alike agree that this circumventing of that region is worth the extra time and money, especially considering the continuously occurring seismic activity within the Lake Baikal region that would surely threaten the pipeline’s integrity, making leaks and ruptures a constant concern. In hopes to appease everyone, Russian President Putin proposed a route shift to the north. Transneft opposed that plan, but split the difference, allowing for an extension to take the pipeline 400 kms north. Lake Baikal’s ancient ecosystem will now be safe, and China is assured to get all the petroleum it requires.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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