Next year, China will import 17 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Central Asian countries through a pipeline project designed to link up Caspian Sea gas reserves with energy-hungry China, the China Petroleum Daily said Friday.
The China-Central Asia gas pipeline is China's first large-scale pipeline project to bring in natural gas and highlights China's quest for energy sources in Central Asia.
The approximately 10,000 km-long project runs from Turkmenistan, passes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and concludes in northwest China's Xinjiang region.
"Central Asian countries will play an important role in China's overseas energy strategy," said Shi Dan, head of the energy research center under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "And the pipeline is part of China's attempts to secure more energy sources worldwide."
Upon completion, project capacity is scheduled to grow to 15 billion cubic meters by the end of this year and 30 billion cubic meters by the end of 2011.
China National Petroleum Corp, the Chinese partner in the pipeline, already received about 2 billion cubic meters of gas via one section of the pipeline by mid-July.
The project will be implemented in five stages with the final stage scheduled for completion by 2013. The Sino- Kazakh section - which is 1,300 kilometers long and a joint venture between China National Petroleum and Kazakhstan - began operating in early 2010.
"This is a grand construction project that will, in time, resurrect the ancient Silk Road," Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said last year at a ceremony held to kick off construction.
Analysts said that China is expected to see more gas imports in the future. Natural gas consumption will account for 10 percent of China's annual total primary energy consumption by 2020 from the current 3.9 percent level, according to Zhou Jiping, vice-president of China National Petroleum.
Negotiations for the project started with Central Asian countries in 2003 and con-struction began in 2007.
It is the fourth oil and natural gas pipeline linking China and other countries after the Sino-Myanmar oil and gas pipelines, the China-Pakistan crude pipeline and the the Sino- Russian oil pipeline.