Putin-linked steel company supplies pipes for Kinder Morgan's expansion project in Otis State Forest

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SANDISFIELD — Pipes being laid for a natural gas line here were made in Canada by a company owned by Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire and close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley confirmed that Tennessee Gas, the company's subsidiary, is using pipes made by EVRAZ for its Connecticut Expansion Project.

The 13-mile loop will run through about four miles of Sandisfield, two of them in Otis State Forest.

The pipeline, now nearing completion, uses an existing corridor on protected state land, sparking protests.

Nearly 60 climate change activists have been arrested in Otis State Forest since the work began in May.

Abramovitch, who is part-owner of the Chelsea soccer club, is one of Putin's "closest confidants," according to Politico.

The Washington Post reported that allegations have swirled around the businessman, who has "murky" ties with President Donald Trump.

An EVRAZ spokesman told The Eagle the Sandisfield pipes were made at one of the company's plants in western Canada. He said the plants use a process that produces lower carbon emissions than manufacturers in Asia.

The company's scrap steel melting business is the North American leader in production and sales of large diameter pipes, the spokesman said.

EVRAZ also has North American manufacturing plants in Pueblo, Colo., and Portland, Ore. Its headquarters and sales office is in Chicago.

According to Reuters, Kinder Morgan has ordered roughly 250,000 metric tons of pipe from EVRAZ to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline in Canada, yet another controversial pipeline environmental activists are calling "Standing Rock North" because of tribal opposition.

The Standing Rock Indian reservation in North Dakota was the scene of citizen resistance over the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Trump has repeatedly professed his dedication to restoring manufacturing in the U.S. Earlier this year he told an audience this goes for pipelines, too.

"Who makes the pipes?" Trump said he asked a steel company executive before he signed orders to allow the completion of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

And on Jan. 24, after those executive orders were announced, the Russian pipe maker issued a statement on its website:

"EVRAZ North America applauds the Trump administration for advancing the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines ... we look forward to working with our customers and the Administration to make these projects a reality."

Reach staff writer Heather Bellow at 413-329-6871


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