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

Russia switches on gas mega-pipeline to China as Putin touts closer ties

Russia switches on gas mega-pipeline to China as Putin touts closer ties

Chinese President Xi Jinping took part in a video call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Monday, as the two heads of state jointly witnessed the launch ceremony of the pipeline.

"Speaking highly of the arduous efforts Chinese and Russian builders and companies have made in frozen and snow-covered land in the past five years, Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the workers "...have shown to the world their consummate skills and the fruitful results of China-Russia cooperation".

The pipeline that stretches over 5,000 miles, according to the NPR, will see China importing up to 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas in 2020.

Russian pipeline gas will compete against other pipeline gas supplies to China, including from Turkmenistan, as well as against shipments of sea-borne liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The mammoth Power of Siberia pipeline connecting the world's top gas exporter and its largest energy importer crowns years of tough negotiations and work in hard conditions.

Moscow is hoping to launch two other major energy projects - the Nord Steam 2 undersea Baltic gas pipeline to Germany and the TurkStream pipeline to Turkey and southern Europe.

The shift of market focus to the East will help Russian Federation, one of the largest exporters of natural gas, skirt the adverse effects of Western financial sanctions imposed over its 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.

The pipeline bolsters the nations' ties while China is embroiled in a trade dispute with the U.S. It stems from a $400 billion deal signed in 2014 by Russian state energy giant Gazprom, which agreed to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually to China National Petroleum Corp for the next 30 years. The pipeline crosses wetlands, mountainous terrain and seismically active territories, along with areas with permafrost and rocky soils.

The new pipeline extends from Heilongjiang, on the Russian border, to Jilin and Liaoning, China's top grain hub. Xi said the project served as a model of cooperation.

China is the world's largest energy consumer and demand for natural gas is increasing in the country, especially in the northern part, as it gradually moves from burning coal to cleaner energy for central household heating in winter.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, being constructed by Gazprom and European partners, is more than 80% complete and due to begin operations in the middle of next year. "The eastern route, the Power of Siberia is a global, strategically significant and mutually beneficial project", said Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller.

TASS said that deliveries had started flowing through the pipeline as of Monday, although the amount will start small and then ramp up over the years.

Supplies will come from the Chayandiskoye field, with gas reserves of 1.2 trillion cubic meters (Tcm) and production capacity of 25 Bcm/y by 2024.

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