China, Russia launch massive joint gas pipeline

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

When Russian gas flowed into northern China on Monday, as Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping ordered the taps open, it sent geopolitical ripples across the globe. The 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) route stretching from the Chayanda and Kovykta gas fields within the Irkutsk and Yakutia gas production centers to the city of Blagoveshchensk, near the Chinese border will pump 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) annually, or 1.3 trillion cubic feet, of natural gas for 30 years.

Hailing the five-year toil of construction teams from both countries on the project under extreme weather and the completion on schedule, Putin said Russian Federation will provide 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas to China in the next 30 years. In May 2014, Russia's Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) signed a sales and purchase agreement for gas to be supplied via the "eastern route' (Power of Siberia gas pipeline)". The country's gas exports all head to the U.S., McNiven said, because while China is an appealing market that it would like to target, Canada does not even have an LNG export terminal that would allow it to become a global exporter. The two tunnels, each 1,139 meters long, connect Heihe in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and Blagoveshchensk in Russian Federation. Russian Federation and China signed the 30-year, $400 billion construction deal in 2014 - Gazprom's biggest ever contract. The pipeline posed an engineering challenge, traversing swamps, rocky mountains, areas prone to earthquakes and regions of permafrost where the temperature fell to minus-58 degrees last winter.

"This is a genuinely historical event not only for the global energy market but above all for us, for Russia and China", said Putin, who watched the launch via video link from the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

"This step takes Russo-Chinese strategic cooperation in energy to a qualitative new level and brings us closer to (fulfilling) the task, set together with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, of taking bilateral trade to US$200 billion by 2024".

Xi told Putin via a video link on Monday that the newly launched gas pipeline is "a landmark project of bilateral energy cooperation" and an "example of deep integration and mutually beneficial cooperation".

Friendly Russian-Chinese ties have been gradually developing based on the principles of transparency and mutual respect, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said. The country is also constructing pipelines that expand its reach far into Europe. But the project could be frustrated if threatened USA sanctions against companies laying the pipeline are imposed.

Nord Stream-2, which would double gas volumes to Germany, is expected to go online in mid2020, though it has faced opposition from the United States and countries in central and eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine.