The construction of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline's branch to China started in the Russian far eastern town of Skovorodino Monday, news reports said Tuesday.
The 63.8-kilometer-long branch will have an annual output capacity of 15 million tons of oil, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin and Wang Dongjin, vice president of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), attended the launch ceremony.
The ESPO project will enable Russia to diversify its markets and tap new fields that were "previously inaccessible," the Interfax news agency quoted Sechin as saying.
The pipeline would run from Skovorodino to China's northeastern city of Daqing. It is scheduled to be operational by the end of next year, CNPC Vice President Zhou Jiping said in Beijing last Thursday.
China and Russia signed seven energy cooperation agreements in February, which included the pipeline pact, a long-term oil trading deal and a financing plan.