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Cover Stories Series 2014> Reform Initiatives Underway for 2015> Retrospect> Feature
UPDATED: November 24, 2014 NO. 48 NOVEMBER 27, 2014
Brightening Up the Silk Road
China-Central Asia oil and gas pipelines will facilitate the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt
By Wang Jun

GAS CONNECTIVITY: The Samantepe gas field in Turkmenistan plays host to an inauguration ceremony for a new China-Central Asia gas pipeline. The line runs from Turkmenistan, through the neighboring Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China (ALEXANDER TUMANOV)

At 10:55 p.m. November 13, the screen of the control center of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) reached a milestone, reading that the China-Central Asia natural gas pipelines had been in safe operation for 1,796 days and delivered a total of 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas to China.

The next day, Qu Guangxue, spokesman of CNPC, announced that, since putting into operation in 2006, the China-Kazakhstan oil pipelines had delivered over 70 million tons of crude oil to China.

Energy cooperation between China and Central Asian countries is a powerful engine stimulating the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

During his two separate visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiatives to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in a bid to revive the historic trade routes by boosting cooperation between China and other Asian nations.

At a dialogue meeting on strengthening connectivity and improving cooperation in the country's neighborhood, held in Beijing in November, Xi said China will contribute $40 billion to set up a Silk Road Fund.

"As an important force for the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, CNPC has accelerated oil and gas cooperation in Central Asia," Qu said. "Connecting Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan with China and other Asian countries, China-Central Asia oil and gas pipelines are like bright lights illuminating the Silk Road Economic Belt," said Qu.

Mutual benefits

Energy cooperation between China and Central Asia countries, which are complementary in economic structures and resources, will boost common prosperity and bring benefits to all the countries.

Central Asia is a region with abundant reserves of oil and gas resources. According to Qu, the total natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan account for one seventh of the world's total. Turkmenistan alone has natural gas reserves of 17.5 trillion cubic meters, accounting for one ninth of the world's total. Kazakhstan is the 11th largest country of oil and gas resources in the world, holding 3.3 percent of the world's crude oil reserves. As the largest energy consumer in the world, China offers a huge market for the oil and gas exports of Central Asia.

Oil and gas cooperation between China and Central Asia is also of great significance to China. According to Qu, natural gas imported from Central Asia has covered users in 25 Chinese provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions as well as Hong Kong, benefiting more than 500 million people.

The 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas delivered by the China-Central Asia gas pipelines can replace consumption of 133 million tons of coal, reducing emissions of carbon dioxide by 142 million tons and those of sulfur dioxide by 2.2 million tons.

"Central Asian countries will benefit more from cooperation with China," Qu emphasized.

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