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October 24, 2009

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Turkmen part of gas pipeline to China done

WORK has been completed on the Turkmen section of a pipeline that is due to begin transporting natural gas from the energy-rich central Asian nation to China by the end of this year, state media reported yesterday.

The announcement that the new 7,000-kilometer central Asian energy route is nearing completion comes as Turkmenistan remains mired in a dispute with Russia over gas deliveries.

The 188-kilometer Turkmen section leads from the Malai gas field in the east of the country to the border with Uzbekistan and was built by pipeline construction company Stroitransgaz, a subsidiary of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, for about US$600 million. The new pipeline, still under construction, will cross Uzbekistan and then Kazakhstan before reaching China.

The leaders of Turkmenistan, China and Uzbekistan are set to attend an inauguration ceremony for the pipeline on December 15.

Turkmenistan has hailed the pipeline as key to reducing its dependence on Russia, which has had a lock on most of the reclusive desert nation's gas exports in recent years.

"Transporting gas supplies to China will mark another important milestone in the successful implementation of Turkmenistan's strategy to diversify energy export routes to world markets," newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan said.

In June, China clinched a 30-year deal to buy up to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Turkmenistan annually starting next year.

Turkmenistan has until recently sold most of its gas to Russia.

However, supplies have been suspended since a pipeline explosion in April that Turkmenistan blames on Gazprom.


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