Putin, Xi launch 'historic' Russian gas pipeline to China

Russian energy giant Gazprom and the Kremlin are hedging their bets by developing new pipelines that serve Europe and China analysts say

Russian energy giant Gazprom and the Kremlin are hedging their bets by developing new pipelines that serve Europe and China analysts say

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Kozak, second right, and Russian Minister of Energy Alexander Novak, back to a camera attend a joint video conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping during inaugurating the Power of Siberia pipeline in the Bocharov Ruchei residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019.

Russian Federation and China on Monday (Dec 2) launched a giant gas pipeline linking the countries for the first time, one of three major projects aimed at cementing Moscow's role as the world's top gas exporter.

Russian Federation and China signed a 30-year, US$400 billion (S$547 billion) deal for its development in 2014, in the biggest ever contract for Gazprom.

TurkStream, which Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan hope to launch in January, will transport Russian gas to Turkey, also bypassing Ukraine.

Alexei Miller, head of Russian gas giant Gazprom which championed the project, said almost 10,000 people had worked to build the enormous pipeline. It was Gazprom's biggest contract.

The energy megaproject between Russia, the world's largest gas exporter, and China, the world's largest gas consumer, is not only expected to deliver 38 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to the Asian industrial giant in the next 30 years, but is also expected to strengthen the economic and political cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.

As the climate talks begin, Russian Federation and China are hoping a new gas pipeline will help them use less coal.

Gazprom stressed that the pipeline ran through "swampy, mountainous, seismically active, permafrost and rocky areas with extreme environmental conditions".

"The absolute lowest air temperatures along the Power of Siberia route range from minus 62 degrees Celsius [-80 Fahrenheit] in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) to minus 41 degrees Celsius [-41 Fahrenheit] in the Amur Region", it added.

The pipeline is part of Russian Federation efforts to develop ties with Asia - in particular top energy importer China - amid longstanding tensions with the West.

The bridge, which is to open next year, will connect the city of Blagoveshchensk and the northern Chinese city of Heihe.

Xi said the project "serves as a model of. mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries".

"Nord Stream 2 is not a success", he told AFP, noting that it was hard to say when Gazprom would be able to fully capitalise on its investment.

The Power of Siberia launch came amid continued wrangling over Nord Stream 2.

The European Commission's push to rewrite the EU's Third Gas Directive is doomed, but Brussels has not withdrawn its proposal because it is preparing a "grand bargain" with Russian Federation, experts told a EURACTIV event on Wednesday (5 September).

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