A Japanese proposal for an oil pipeline in eastern Siberia still has a chance of being chosen over a Chinese proposal, a Russian lawmaker indicated Thursday.

Valery Yazev, who specializes in energy affairs, said at a news conference in Tokyo that Russia is studying “various options” over the issue and that “no final decisions have yet been made.”

Most observers still regard the Chinese proposal as the front-runner.

Yazev said some realize that Japan’s plan would make it possible for Russia to export oil to other countries, such as the United States and South Korea. But he said the decision may come down to how aggressively Japan and China negotiate with Russia.

Yazev serves as chairman of the Subcommittee for Gas of the Committee for Energy, Transport and Telecommunications at the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russia’s parliament.

His comments came after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi asked Russian President Vladimir Putin about the issue during the last week’s talks in St. Petersburg.

Japan wants Russia to build a pipeline from Angarsk to the Russian port of Nakhodka on the Sea of Japan. China has proposed a route linking the Angarsk area west of Lake Baikal and the inland Chinese city of Daqing in Heilongjiang Province.

Yazev, also president of the Russian Gas Society, is now on a visit to Japan in part to attend the World Gas Conference being held in Tokyo.

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