Kazakhstan joined construction of a pan-Central Asia pipeline on Wednesday, a major project to link up Caspian Sea gas reserves with China.
Zhang Guobao (front-R), vice chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, shakes hands with Sauat Mynbayev (front-L), Kazakhstan's Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, at the opening ceremony of the construction of a natural gas pipeline in Almaty on Wednesday, July 9, 2008. [Photo: Xinhua]
Sauat Mynbayev, Kazakhstan's energy minister, said the project will be implemented in five stages with the final stage scheduled for completion by 2013.
The Kazakh link is part of a route that links Turkmenistan's natural gas deposits with China via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Uzbekistan also started construction of its part this month while Turkmenistan launched its segment last year.
Gas shipments will start in 2010 at 4.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year and will eventually reach 40 bcm a year. China will receive 30 bcm and Kazakhstan 10 bcm for its southern regions which face an energy deficit due to growing consumption.
Turkmenistan, sitting on Central Asia's largest gas reserves, will be the major supplier of the 7,000 kilometer (4,350 miles) pipeline.
Kazakhstan, which hosts 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) of the pipeline, plans to extend its part in the future, connecting it to its own gas fields near the Caspian.
The new transit route is part of a larger project to build two parallel pipelines connecting China with Central Asia's vast natural gas reserves. The pipes will stretch more than 1,800 kilometers (1100 miles) from the Turkmenistan, cross Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and will enter China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
China plans to boost natural gas production by 50 percent before 2010 to meet increasing demand, the China Daily newspaper said in an earlier article. The nation's gas production is expected to be 90 billion cu m in 2010 and natural gas will then account for 5.3 percent of the nation's total energy consumption.
A photo taken on Wednesday, July 9, 2008 shows the Kazakh link of the pan-Central Asia pipeline which is under construction. [Photo: Xinhua]
(CRI, Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2008)