Putin, Xi launch ‘historic’ Russian gas pipeline to China

Author: 
Mon, 2019-12-02 22:44

MOSCOW: Russia and China on Monday launched a giant gas
pipeline linking the countries for the first time, one of three
major projects aimed at cementing Moscow’s role as the world’s
top gas exporter.

Presiding by video linkup over an elaborate televised ceremony,
Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping
hailed the “Power of Siberia” pipeline as a symbol of
cooperation.

“Today is remarkable, a truly historic event not only for the
global energy market, but first of all for us and for you, for
Russia and China,” Putin said.

Xi said the project served as a model of cooperation.

“China-Russia relations are entering a new era,” Xi said.
“Everyone worked hard.”The ceremony featured hard-hatted gas
workers and videos showing the pipeline’s difficult path from
remote areas of eastern Siberia to Blagoveshchensk on the Chinese
border.

Workers burst into applause and celebratory music played as the
CEO of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, speaking from the
Amur region, ordered a valve opened for the gas to flow across the
border.

The 3,000-km pipeline — which Putin has called “the
world’s biggest construction project” — will supply China
with 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually when fully operational
in 2025.

Russia and China signed the 30-year, $400 billion construction
deal in 2014 — Gazprom’s biggest ever contract.

The pipeline is part of Russia efforts to develop ties with Asia
— in particular top energy importer China — amid longstanding
tensions with the West.

Gazprom stressed that the pipeline ran through “swampy,
mountainous, seismically active, permafrost and rocky areas with
extreme environmental conditions.”

Temperatures along the route plunge to below -60 C in Yakutia
and below -40 C in the Russian Far East’s Amur Region.

Work has also been completed on the first road bridge between
Russia and China, further linking the two neighbors.

The bridge, which is to open next year, will connect the city of
Blagoveshchensk and the northern Chinese city of Heihe.

Moscow, however, remains a key gas provider to Europe and is
also planning to soon launch two more pipelines that will ramp up
supplies to the continent while bypassing Ukraine — TurkStream
and Nord Stream 2.

Analysts said the three projects have long-term economic and
political benefits for Russia, which has inserted itself between
European markets to the west and the rapidly growing Chinese market
to the east.

“Russia is not only creating new income streams, but hedging
its bets and bolstering its position strategically,” said energy
analyst Andrew Hill.

“The ability to play one off against the other will not have
been lost on either Gazprom or the Kremlin,” Hill, who leads the
S&P Global Platts EMEA gas and power analytics team, wrote in a
blog.

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Source: FS – All-News-Economy
Putin, Xi launch ‘historic’ Russian gas pipeline to China