China and Kazakhstan announced that a 1,300-kilometer natural gas pipeline in Kazakhstan will come online in a few days, marking the first export route in Central Asia that doesn't involve Russia's heavy hand in the transport of natural gas. KazMunaiGaz, the Kazakh state-controlled energy firm, said the pipeline will eventually be able to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan.
The pipeline's capacity could eventually be increased to 40 billion cubic meters and gas deliveries to China could reach 13 billion cubic meters in 2010. China Development Bank provided most of the financing for the $6.7 billion project.
Turkmenistan, a former Soviet Republic, will also supply natural gas to China via 4,300-mile section of the pipeline. The Turkmenistan-China pipeline runs through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to western China. The Turkmenistan announcement comes as the nation is involved in a lengthy dispute with Russia regarding natural gas deliveries. The country typically sells most of its natural gas supply to Russia, but those sales have dwindled in the wake of a pipeline explosion earlier this year.
China is hungry for natural gas and its consumption reached 80 billion cubic meters in 2008. In November, PetroChina (PTR), China's largest oil producer, said it would import 700 million cubic meters of natural gas to meet rising demand.