Turkmenistan to boost China gas deliveries
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 24, 2011, 12:42
Beijing: Turkmenistan has agreed to boost its supply of natural gas to energy hungry China by nearly two-thirds, significantly expanding the world's largest power consumer's access to the clean-burning fuel.

China tagged onto the deal apparently after proposed Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline made little headway.

The lucrative deal was struck yesterday during a meeting between visiting Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao here.

Under the agreement, Turkmenistan will increase natural gas supplies to China by 25 billion cubic metres a year, which will bring total annual supply to 65 billion cubic metres.

The gas comes through 1,833-km world's longest pipeline connecting Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China.

During their meeting, Hu also pledged to deepen energy cooperation with Turkmenistan and establish "a long-term and stable strategic energy partnership" following the success of a natural gas pipeline between the two countries, which became operational in 2009, state-run China Daily reported.

The deal would help China, the world's second-largest economy to diversify and expand access to energy needed to power its fast-growing economy and reduce its reliance on heavily polluting coal, it said.

The Turkmenistan appears to be stepping up gas supplies China as TAPI has not made much headway in view of volatile political and military situation prevailing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, making it hard for India to make a strong push for TAPI.

Chinese analysts said Turkmenistan has adopted a diversified energy export strategy to shake off its dependence on sales to Russia.

Besides expanding gas exports to nearby Iran and launching a pipeline to China, it has also won strong support from the European Union and the United States for plans to supply gas to a trans-Caspian pipeline that will run to Europe via Azerbaijan.

The new deal would greatly assist China in diversifying its energy sources, Gao Fei, a researcher on Central Asia studies at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, told the Daily.

China and Turkmenistan launched a natural gas pipeline in Central Asia in December 2009.

The 1,833-km pipeline is the longest in the world and had delivered 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China by the end of May this year.

The gas agreement was one of 14 signed following the leaders' talks yesterday.

Others agreements cover loans for the purchase of oil and gas drilling equipment, public security cooperation, recognition of degrees, combating money laundering and tackling terrorism.

"China highly values its relations with Turkmenistan," Hu said adding that it is a policy of the government to develop friendly and cooperative relations with Turkmenistan on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

Considering China as a top-priority strategic partner of Turkmenistan, Berdymukhamedov, who is in China for a four-day visit, told Hu his country appreciates China's respect for Turkmenistan's neutral status.

Both sides agreed to enhance security and law enforcement cooperation, promising joint efforts to fight terrorism, separatism and extremism, and cross-border crimes.

China became Turkmenistan's largest trade partner in 2011, with bilateral trade rising to USD 3.56 billion in the first three quarters.


First Published: Thursday, November 24, 2011, 12:36

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