Turkmen-China gas pipeline nearly operational

AP News
Posted: Dec 10, 2009 1:40 AM

A natural gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan and China is nearly operational and President Hu Jintao will attend an inauguration ceremony during a visit to the central Asian nation this weekend, a senior Chinese diplomat said Thursday.

The 1,833-kilometer (1,139-mile) Turkmenistan-China pipeline cuts through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China's far western Xinjiang region.

It will eventually be able to bring 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually from gas-rich Turkmenistan, undercutting Russia's near-lock on gas supplies in that former Soviet region.

State leaders from Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan will also take part in the ceremony marking the completion of one of two pipelines making up the project, said Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya at a briefing in Beijing. The other line is expected to be finished in 2011.

"An important part of our economic and trade cooperation with Central Asia includes projects in the energy field," said Zhang Xiyun, head of the foreign ministry's department for European-Central Asian affairs.

"Our completed projects have begun yielding positive results and there will be continued cooperation between the two sides in the energy field and there is still more room for further growth," Zhang told reporters, without giving specifics.

Hu will visit Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan from Saturday to Monday, Wang said.