TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) – Russia’s energy minister Viktor Khristenko, after meeting a group of Japanese business leaders, said Japan’s proposal to build a crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Far East port of Nakhodka has a good chance of being realized, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

Japan and China are vying to convince the Russian government to adopt their proposed route for a pipeline from the Siberian oil fields.

China, whose reliance on imported oil is projected to surge because of its rapid industrial growth rate, has suggested a pipeline leading to northeast China.

Japan, the world’s second largest oil importer after the US, wants to ensure the Siberian oil flows its way to reduce its reliance on supplies from the volatile Middle East.

After meeting delegates of the Japan Russia Business Cooperation Committee, formed by the Japan Business Federation, Khristenko told reporters the government will make its final decision after completing a feasibility study in July, the Japanese business daily said in a despatch from Moscow.

“He also said that Russia has a policy of prioritising development of the Siberia/Far East region, suggesting that Japan’s Nakhodka route has more chance of success,” the newspaper said.