The Chinese oil requirements are like no other country. However, they have increasingly been looking to their Western neighbours for oil/gas supplies. The Chinese have succeeded in transporting Caspian oil and gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to eastern China, a distance of some four thousand miles. Aside from the various geographical impediments to this project – much of the terrain along this route is harsh and mountainous – the pipeline passes through several areas of instability, including China’s remote Xinjiang province. The only part of China (other than Tibet) in which non-Chinese people’s form the majority, Xinjiang has long been torn by fighting between government troops and Uighur separatists who seek to establish an independent ‘East Turkestan’. Despite this, Beijing secured an agreement from Kazakhstan in 1997 for the construction of an eighteen-hundred-mile pipeline from the Aktyubinsk oil field to Xinjiang.
According to CNPC, the inflow of Turkmen gas has significantly helped China in meeting its energy demands and in future would stabilize the country’s overall consumption structure. When in use, the pipeline’s deliveries will boost the natural gas proportion of energy consumption of China by an estimated 2%, which will reduce the overall smoke, dust and carbon dioxide emissions.This amounts to an estimated 50% of China’s total 2007 natural gas production. As far as Turkmenistan goes, the project will help the country diversify its energy exports by delivering gas eastward as opposed to its current deliveries to Russia and Iran. Until the inauguration of the pipeline, nearly 70% of Turkmenistan’s gas exports transited through Russian pipelines. Central Asia–China gas pipeline is the first pipeline to bring Central Asian natural gas to China and highlights China’s quest for Central Asian energy exports. While Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are also considering selling their gas to China, Chinese government already made new moves to penetrate deeper into Central Asian energy sector by lending $3 billion to Turkmenistan to develop the South Iolotan field in 2009 and $10 billion to Kazakhstan to pay for future oil supplies.
Are China’s dependencies on Caspian resources sustainable?
Klare, M. T. (2002): Resource Wars – The New Landscape of Global Conflict. Owl Books, New York