A new natural gas project between China and Turkmenistan has begun operations, which is set to further boost bilateral economic ties in areas including energy and infrastructure, help ensure China's energy supply amid rising energy prices and diversify China's sources of energy imports against the backdrop of global uncertainties.
According to Global Times, a new gas field developed by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) in Turkmenistan has been put into operation as of Saturday, the Chinese Embassy in Turkmenistan said in a statement on Monday. Qian Naicheng, Chinese Ambassador to Turkmenistan, said that natural gas cooperation between China and Turkmenistan has a strong and endogenous potential, which is not affected by changes in the international situation, and it is expected to welcome a new golden period of cooperation. Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow attended the launch ceremony and delivered a speech, in which he spoke highly of Turkmenistan-China relations and stressed the importance of bilateral energy cooperation. It is hoped that the two sides will upgrade and expand energy cooperation on the existing basis, he said, according to the statement.
Turkmenistan is one of the biggest suppliers of natural gas to China and a key country of the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline project. As China's first transnational gas pipeline, the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline runs from the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, passes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and links up with China's West-to-East Gas Pipeline in Khorgas, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to the Xinhua News Agency. With a total length of 1,833 km and a designed annual gas transmission capacity of 60 billion cubic meters, the pipeline was put into service in December 2009, and its highest daily transport volume has exceeded 160 million cubic meters.
The pipeline has delivered more than 334 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China since it went into operation in 2009, bringing warmth to Chinese households with natural gas from Turkmenistan, Berdimuhamedow said. It is expected that with the construction of the fourth stage of the project, known as Line D on the China-Central Asia Gas Pipeline, the pipeline will take the annual transmission capacity to China to 65 billion cubic meters, Berdimuhamedow said.
China is the main export market for Turkmen gas, and the operation of the new gas field is of mutual benefit for both countries, experts said. It will meet China's gas demand, ensure domestic energy supply and diversify China's sources of energy imports amid global uncertainties, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday. "If the 65 billion-cubic-meter transmission capacity is realized, it will account for nearly half of China's natural gas imports. Gas imports via pipelines will also be cheaper than gas imports by sea," Lin said.
In 2021, China's total natural gas imports increased by 19.9 percent year-on-year to 121 million tons, according to customs data. Gas imports via pipelines rose more than 22 percent year-on-year and LNG imports grew more than 18 percent year-on-year. Aside from fostering energy cooperation between the two countries, the pipeline will also be a source of prosperity, promoting infrastructure construction and creating employment opportunities for the country, experts said. "The project is expected to offer great economic returns to the Central Asian country, which is dependent on exports of its vast natural gas reserves," Lin said.