The European Union, concerned about energy supply disruption, has asked Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft to reveal its investment and supply plans, Transneft and EU officials said on Monday.
Russia, the world's top crude producer, has had a chequered history of energy relations with the European Union, which relies heavily on it for oil and gas supplies.
Last year Russian oil companies cut flows through the Soviet-built Druzhba pipeline, hitting refiners in the Czech Republic, as they shifted to new routes including the Ust-Luga terminal on the Baltic Sea.
The possibility of further supply cuts increased after Transneft completed expansion of its East Siberia pipeline to the Pacific Ocean port of Kozmino last month, creating a powerful tool for Russian companies to potentially switch flows from West to East and vice versa.
A loading schedule has shown that Russia will cut Europe-bound shipments of Urals crude in the first quarter, with the biggest cut set for cargoes out of Ust-Luga, down by 20%.
According to estimates by Russia's Energy Ministry, Russia in recent months has been supplying about 3.6 million barrels per day to Europe, accounting for a third of its oil imports.
In 2013 Russia aims to export up to 22 million tonnes from Kozmino, up from 16.3 million tonnes last year.
Transneft says that it does not dictate to oil companies which route they should choose.
A Transneft delegation is travelling to Brussels to meet the European Commission officials on Tuesday, Sergei Khodyrev, the head of the delegation said.
He said that Philip Lowe, director general for energy in the European Commission, sent a letter to Transneft last month, inviting officials to disclose investments plans at a meeting with the EU energy representatives.
"We will go there (Brussels) and will share our investment programme with our European colleagues," Khodyrev, a Transneft deputy vice president, told reporters.
"We can't reveal any commercial confidential secrets, but we, of course, can talk about some general issues."
He also said Russia had no plans to increase oil supplies to China, which has been asking Moscow for more barrels.
The Asian consumer currently takes delivery of 300,000 barrels per day of Russian crude oil under contract via an overland branch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline, which was financed with a "loans for oil" deal with CNPC.
"We invited Transneft to tomorrow's meeting of the Coordination Group for oil and petroleum products (former Oil Supply group) to speak on their medium/long term plans," Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said.
"This is the forum used for coordinating measures taken by the member states in case of difficulties arising with regard to oil supplies."
Khodyrev also said Transneft would pose some questions to the European Union, including ways to tackle bottlenecks in the Turkish straits.
Russia has long supported a proposal to build a trans-Balkan oil pipeline from the Black Sea port of Burgas to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean in Greece. But the project was put on hold due to differences over financing and other issues.
Khodyrev said the Transneft delegation would offer to look again into the project, although he stopped short of saying that Moscow wanted to revive it.
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