Putin: Turkmen gas line won't disrupt Russian-Chinese cooperation

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 7 -- Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the newly constructed Turkmen-Chinese natural gas pipeline—due to be tested in about 2 weeks—will not endanger energy cooperation between his country and China.

“We are aware of the Chinese gas needs and have close contact with our Chinese colleagues. We also offer to expand cooperation with them. We do not think that the prospective gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China will damage our plans,” the Russian leader said.

A framework agreement, spelling out terms of Russian gas supplies to China, was signed in October during Putin’s state visit to Beijing. The agreement signed was a follow-up to previous accords and it details the basic terms of the future contract.

Gas is to be delivered via two routes with 30 billion cu m to be sent through the western route and 38 billion cu m via the eastern route. Russian officials say the gas contract could be signed in June 2010, and that the first gas could be shipped in 2014-15.

Meanwhile, Putin’s remarks coincided with a report that the test launch of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline's first branch is scheduled for Dec. 15, according to an official of Uzbekistan’s state-owned Uzbekneftegaz.

“The dress-rehearsal of the launch of the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline's first branch is scheduled for Dec. 15,” the source told the Interfax news agency adding that there are plans to carry out the testing of the whole pipeline from Turkmenistan to China by pumping gas into it.

The source also said that 99% of construction of the pipeline's Uzbek section had been finished. “We successfully carried out a hydraulic testing at our section of the gas pipeline and we have two more weeks to deal with the secondary construction work,” the source said.

The Uzbek section of the pipeline, worth $2.975 billion, passes through 530 km of the country, including the regions of Qashqadaryo, Buxoro, and Navoiy. The line can transport as much as 40 billion cu m/year of gas.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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