Oil route to bypass Belarus might be ready in less than 18 months

A new pipeline that will bypass Belarus and expand oil exports from Russia's Baltic Sea port of Primorsk could be built in less than 18 months.

Russia raised the idea of the Primorsk pipeline in January, after a dispute with Belarus halted crude supplies to Europe.

The head of Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft, Semyon Vainshtok, says that eventually 1 MLN barrels per day will be pumped through the pipeline.

Transneft is also planning to build Russia's first pipeline to Asia by 2009.

Vainshtok said the company would be able to fund both projects by increasing foreign borrowing.