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Latvian Railways brace for cut in oil product transit

Latvian Railways - Latvia's national rail operator - is preparing for Russia's Transneft to cease shipping petroleum products through non-Russian Baltic ports by 2018, Latvian Railways head Edvīns Bērziņš told Latvian Television's Rīta Panorāma Monday. 

On Monday Russia's Transneft announced it'll cease oil product deliveries through foreign Baltic ports by 2018. 

Bērziņš said that this is no surprise as Russia has been making heavy investments into its ports for several years now.

"We are reckoning with a year-by-year decrease," said Bērziņš, saying the volume of shipments could decrease by 10 million tons due to the move.

However Bērziņš said that the volume of total transit shipments served by Latvian Railways might not decrease as they can be replaced with others. 

Latvian Railways is currently eyeing other partners - China, Kazakhstan, and Belarus - and has already struck up agreements with Kazakhstan and Belarus over tariffs for transit cargo.

The first test cargo train is expected to arrive from China this year, and Bērziņš hopes the arrival will take place during the November 4-6 visit of China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

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