MOSCOW, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Russia’s top oil producer Rosneft quashed on Wednesday a local newspaper report that the company may boost crude oil deliveries to China, possibly as security on debt financing for its $55 billion purchase of rival oil firm TNK-BP.
Rosneft said the report that the issue would be addressed at a forthcoming meeting between its management and China National Petroleum Corp. was inaccurate, but confirmed the meeting would take place.
The report cited sources as saying Rosneft wanted to ship as much as 10 million tonnes per year of additional crude oil to China via Kazakhstan through the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline.
Russian producers stopped using the pipeline as a transit route for shipments to China shortly after the 2009 launch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO), which branches into two lines carrying Russian crude oil from Siberia to China and to the Pacific port of Kozmino.
Reuters data shows there is little unused capacity in the 10 million tonne per year Atasu-Alashankou pipeline, which now handles around 8 million tonnes per year of Kazakh crude.
Industry sources have said China is interested in buying more crude oil from Russia. The Asian consumer currently takes delivery of 300,000 barrels per day of Russian crude oil under contract via an overland branch of ESPO, which was financed with a “loans for oil” deal with CNPC.
Rosneft is using that so-called “offtake finance” model to buy TNK-BP from BP and its Russian partners. Late last month it said it had agreed $10 billion in loans from key customers, or offtakers, of its crude oil.
Unlike Saudi Arabia, its rival for top world oil producer, Russia has little to no spare production capacity and Asian customers are already set to draw supplies away from Europe with the expansion of ESPO’s capacity to deliver crude oil to the Pacific port of Kozmino.