Russia has doubled its crude oil export capacity to China as a result of a new pipeline, cementing its position as the number one supplier of crude to its eastern neighbor.

The new section of the Eastern Siberia–Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline began operations Monday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The venture will deepen energy co-operation between Moscow and Beijing and serve the Belt and Road Initiative, a major Chinese-led development project across Asia.

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Originating in Skovorodino, Russia, the pipeline stretches to Mohe, the northernmost province of China, before passing through the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region all the way to Daqing in the northeastern Heilongjiang province. As a result of the second line, Russia’s crude export capacity to China has now doubled from 15 million to 30 million tons, or about 600,000 barrels a day. This boosts Russia’s lead over Angola and Saudi Arabia as Beijing's’s biggest supplier of crude oil. China is currently considered the number one importer of raw petroleum in the world.

Construction on the second line began in August 2016. The first pipeline from Mohe to Daqing began operating on January 1, 2011. Some 110 million tons of oil have passed through the first line so far. Another section of the pipeline snakes around China to Russia's Far East, serving the specialized oil seaport of Kozmino.

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