On Dec. 14, the presidents of China, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan launched the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline, opening up a new export route for Central Asian gas producers along with a new era for Chinese economic influence.
The launch of the 1,833-km, 40 Bcm/y pipeline, which snakes through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan en route to western China, is testament to China’s voracious energy appetite as well as its financial muscle in bringing the multibillion-dollar project to fruition just two years since construction began.
The pipeline represents a new opening to the East, enabling the ex-Soviet republics to diversify their export partners and loosening the stranglehold Russia has held over their gas reserves. For Turkmenistan, the pipeline is an economic lifeline, as the country has fought with Gazprom over gas prices since supplies halted in April after an explosion on the Central Asia-Centre pipeline.
For China, the pipeline marks a significant milestone in its long-term strategy of boosting imports of gas to diversify and clean up its energy mix and to meet further rapid increases in gas consumption, which exceed 10% per year.