Gazprom starts Power of Siberia deliveries to China

Russia switches on gas mega-pipeline to China as Putin touts closer ties

Presiding by video link-up 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.

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. It has the capacity to deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russian Federation annually.

The Power of Siberia pipeline is a "project of symbolic importance for China-Russia cooperation", said Xi, who expressed hope that the pipeline will become a driving force for economic and social development in the regions it traverses.

The 3,000-km-long (1,865 mile) Power of Siberia pipeline will transport gas from the Chayandinskoye and Kovytka fields in eastern Siberia, for at least the next three decades and generate $400 billion in export revenue for Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing are negotiating the launch of a second part to the mega-project, namely Power of Siberia 2, aimed at providing industrial areas along China's eastern coast with Russian natural gas.

The 2,200-kilometer (1,367-mile) pipeline will carry gas from the Irkutsk and Yakutia gas production centers to consumers in Russia's Far East and China.

The deal was forged in 2014, when China National Petroleum Corp. and Russia's Gazprom signed a 30-year, $400 billion gas supply deal, China's CGTN reported Monday. The pipeline posed an engineering challenge, traversing swamps, rocky mountains, areas prone to earthquakes and regions of permafrost where the temperature fell to minus-58 degrees last winter. It crosses into Heilongjiang Province near the North Korea border.

Xi said the new pipeline would raise two-way trade to $200 billion by 2024, while Putin said Russia's trade with China has reached a record $100 billion, up from $87 billion previous year, according to RFE.

Xi told Putin via a video link on Monday that the newly launched gas pipeline is "a landmark project of bilateral energy cooperation" and an "example of deep integration and mutually beneficial cooperation".

For Russia, on the other hand, the pipeline project signals the country's pro-China sentiment.

The pipeline's capacity could further increase beyond 2024, PetroChina Vice President Ling Xiao said in June.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline, being constructed by Gazprom and European partners, is more than 80% complete and due to begin operations in the middle of next year.

A second gas pipeline being built from Russian Federation to Turkey, TurkStream, also would bypass Ukraine, supplying Turkey and southern Europe. But Gazprom has declared its ambition to provide 38 billion cubic meters to China by 2025 and to supply a quarter of China's liquefied natural gas imports by 2035.

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