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Russia: Pipelines
Country Study > Chapter 6 > The Economy > Transportation and Communications > Transportation > Pipelines


Natural gas and petroleum pipelines play a crucial role in Russia's economy, both in distributing fuel to domestic industrial consumers and in supporting exports to Europe and countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS -- see Glossary). Their complex network connects production regions with virtually all of Russia's centers of population and industry. Pipelines are especially important because of the long distances between Siberian oil and gas fields and Russia's European industrial centers as well as countries to the west.

In 1993 Russia had 48,000 kilometers of pipeline carrying crude oil, 15,000 kilometers for petroleum products, and 140,000 kilometers for natural gas. In recent decades, the natural gas lines have expanded at a much faster rate than the crude oil lines. The main natural gas pipeline, one of the Soviet Union's largest international trade projects, connects the natural gas fields of northern Siberia with most of the countries of Western Europe. Completed in 1984, the line passes nearly 4,000 kilometers across the Ural Mountains, the Volga River, and many other natural obstacles to connect Russian lines with the European system.

Also completed in the early 1980s, the Northern Lights natural gas line runs from the Vuktyl field in the Republic of Komi to Eastern Europe. The Orenburg pipeline was built in the late 1970s to bring gas from the Orenburg field in Russia and the Karachaganak field in northern Kazakhstan to Eastern Europe.

Many of Russia's major oil pipelines parallel gas lines. A trunk oil line runs eastward from the Volga-Ural fields to Irkutsk on Lake Baikal, westward from those fields into Ukraine and Latvia, and southwest to connect with the North Caucasus oil fields and refineries; the line is joined by a line from the oil center at Surgut in the West Siberian Plain.

Data as of July 1996

Last Updated: July 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Russia was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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