Tuesday, 24 June 2014
New branch of Central Asia-China gas pipeline comes online
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) reported in early June that a third branch of the Central Asia–China gas pipeline, also known as line C, had been inaugurated on 31 May, with the first volumes of Turkmen gas now following a new export route across Uzbekistan to the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.
The 1,830km pipeline runs parallel with lines A and B, starting at Gedaim at the Turkmen-Uzbek border and entering Chinese territory at Khorgos. Once in China, it interconnects with the third west-east gas pipeline, which was built by Beijing to take imported natural gas deeper into the country’s heartland and to the east coast where the bulk of its industrial production takes place. Construction of this additional line was started in September 2012 and welding was completed, as initially foreseen, at the end of last year.
CNPC expects that, on completion of all supporting facilities by early 2016, line C will reach its designed annual transit capacity of 25 billion cubic metres. This means that, if all goes to plan, the Central Asia–China gas pipeline will be able to deliver on an annual basis up to 55bcm of Turkmenistan-produced natural gas to Chinese customers. This will represent roughly 20% of China’s domestic gas consumption.
With this in mind, the authorities should proceed to a massive substitution of gas for coal. Reducing coal consumption by 73 million tons a year may allow China to cut its carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide emissions by 78 million tons and 1.21 million tons respectively. If Turkmenistan delivers on its November 2011 promise to supply as much as 65bcm of gas a year, millions of Chinese will see clearer skies.
For Turkmenistan, the expansion of the Central Asia–China gas pipeline system means that its revenues from the lucrative energy sector will remain stable in decades to come. Unlike Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, whose political stability has been compromised by high levels of poverty and the lack of economic opportunities, Turkmenistan has all it needs to remain a deeply autocratic regime with enough gas money to silence domestic critics and secure obedience from ordinary Turkmens.
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© 2014 Menas Associates