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
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
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
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
"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.