Part of the Druzhba pipeline in Belarus (Bymedia.net)
February 13, 2007 -- Semyon Vainshtok, the head of Russia's state pipeline monopoly Transneft, says it could take Russia less than 18 months to build a new oil pipeline bypassing Belarus.
The pipeline would expand oil shipments from Russia's Baltic Sea port of Primorsk.
It could eventually pump one million barrels of oil per day.
Transneft is also planning to build Russia's first pipeline to Asia by 2009. Vainshtok said Transneft would be able to fund both projects by increasing foreign borrowing.
Russia raised the idea for the Primorsk pipeline in January after a dispute with Belarus briefly halted crude supplies to Europe.
Russia's Energy Ministry has cleared the project and it is awaiting approval from the government.