Preparation for Huge Gas Project Under Way

Preparatory work is going smoothly on China's huge energy project to pump gas from the west to the east, which is expected to equal the Three Gorges Project in cost.

The efforts mainly include the development of technology and market and domestic-made materials as well as the route-selection, according to Chen Jiqing, manager of the Project Department of the West-East Gas Transmission Program.

He said that the line will go through the Gobi desert, the Loess Plateau and the Yangtze, Huaihe and Yellow rivers.

The project, as a major component of the ambitious strategy to develop the country's western areas, will start from the Tarim Basin in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and end in Shanghai, running through Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces and the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

International symposiums on inner coating for the pipes, anti-corrosion, working facilities, work in dangerous sections and pipe materials will soon be held in an effort to draw advanced technology from overseas companies, Chen said.

The project will be carried out after overall mapping, he said, adding that as the provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions are in favor of using gas, the plan of transmitting 12 billion cubic meters of gas annually cannot meet future demands.

To build the pipeline, more than two million tons of steel alone are needed, involving a total cost of over ten billion yuan (about US$1.2 billion).

Chen said that concerned departments are making efforts to make the amount of home-made materials constitute more than 70 percent of the line's total.

China has launched prospecting and survey efforts on the route. At present, the length of the route has been shortened by more than 200 kilometers from the figure set in the feasibility studies, he said.

Natural gas will play a very important role in the country's energy development strategy for the 21st century, with gas utilization accounting for eight percent of China's energy consumption instead of the present two percent, experts note.

The gas project will be launched in early 2001 and completed by 2003. A major gas pipeline with a total length of 4,200 kilometers will be built with an initial investment of 120 billion yuan (about US$14.46 billion).

(Xinhua 11/16/2000)

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