CHINA / National

Kazakhstan oil piped into China
Updated: 2006-05-25 11:02

ALATAW PASS, Xinjiang -- Crude oil from Kazakhstan poured into China Thursday morning through a newly completed petroleum pipeline linking the two countries.

This is the first time for imported oil to be directly pipelined into China.

A worker performs on a welding operation of the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline in this undated photo. The costs for the 960-kilometer pipeline amounted to US$700 million and the designed capacity is to pipe 20 million tons of oil to China each year. [Xinhua]

Brownish oil sprang into a petroleum hub in Alataw Pass, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at 3:10 a.m. Thursday, about 30 hours after Kazakhstan began pumping oil into the 960-km pipeline, customs officers at the Alataw Pass told Xinhua.

Technicians with the Sino-Kazakh Oil Pipeline Co. Ltd opened the valve on the China-Kazakhstan border at 7:32 p.m. Tuesday after instructions were received from their Kazak counterparts in Atasu, who started to pump oil into the pipeline at 8:22 p.m. the same day.

Industry insiders say construction of the oil pipeline is a win-win strategy for both countries as it enhances China's oil supply and proves an ideal outlet for Kazakhstan's oil export.

"It has provided a direct link between Kazakhstan's rich oil resources and China's robust oil consumer market," said Yin Juntai, deputy general-manager of China Petroleum Exploration and Development Company.

He said the new oil shipping route will alleviate China's excessive reliance on the Strait of Malacca, a traditional route for 80 percent of China's imported oil.

China, a net oil importer since 1993, is the world's No. 2 oil consumer next only to the United States. Last year, its crude oil import totaled 127 million tons.

Kairgeldy Kabyldin, vice president of the Kazakhstan National Petroleum and Natural Gas Company, praised the transnational oil pipeline as a "new paradigm of cooperation" between the two countries.

He said it is the common aspiration of the Kazak and Chinese governments as well as the two peoples to step up cooperation in the energy sector, and such cooperation plays a vital role in promoting mutual economic development and improving the quality of the peoples' lives.

China and Kazakhstan started energy cooperation in 1997, marked by an intergovernmental agreement covering diverse means of collaboration in oil and gas fields, including an oil pipeline between western Kazakhstan and China's Xinjiang.

The transnational pipeline, extending 962.2 km from Atasu in Kazakhstan to the Alataw Pass of Xinjiang, was completed in November 2005.

It cost 700 million U.S. dollars, which was shared between China and Kazakhstan, and is designed to transmit 20 million tons of oil a year.

In 2005, China imported 1.3 million tons of crude oil from Kazakhstan via Alataw Pass. Insiders predict that the figure will climb to 4.75 million tons this year and to around 8 million tons in 2007.


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