Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd L, front), Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov (3rd L, front), Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev (1st L, front) and Uzbek President Islam Karimov (R, front) attend the inauguration ceremony of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline in the gas plant on the right bank of the Amu Darya River, Turkmenistan, on Dec. 14, 2009.[Xinhua]
TURKMENABAD: Chinese President Hu Jintao and his counterparts from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan Monday jointly put into operation a natural gas pipeline linking the four nations.
At the ceremony in a gas plant near the Turkmen-Uzbek border, President Hu said the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline is a model of sincere solidarity and mutually beneficial cooperation of the four countries. He said the gas pipeline is a carrier of goodwill for friendship and mutual benefits of the four countries.
With their hands on wheel of valves, President Hu and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Uzbek President Islam Karimov turned on the flow of natural gas together in the gas plant on the right bank of the AmuDarya River.
The 1,833-kilometer gas pipeline starts at the gas plant near this border town in Turkmenistan and runs through central Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan before entering China at the border pass of Horgos in the northwest region of Xinjiang.
One of the two parallel pipelines which make up the project has already come on stream and the other line is expected to be operational next year.
The pipeline connects with pipelines inside China that carry natural gas produced in Turkmenistan to major Chinese cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
President Hu said at the inauguration ceremony that the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline is a major cooperative project and of great significance to the four countries.
He said China is ready to continue to maintain close communication and step up coordination with Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to build the second line of the project and secure safety and efficiency in the pipeline's operation. He said China is ready to advance energy collaboration among the four countries in an all-round way and to establish a long-term, stable, secured and reliable partnership of energy cooperation.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Uzbek President Islam Karimov turn on the flow of natural gas together in the gas plant on the right bank of the Amu Darya River, Turkmenistan, on Dec. 14, 2009. The four leader attended the inauguration ceremony of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline here on Monday.[Xinhua]
Hu said the plan and construction of the gas pipeline has won consistent attention and support of the presidents of the three Central Asian countries. The governments of these countries have done a great deal to lay a solid foundation for the smooth progress of pipeline construction. Hu said the pipeline is also a result of hard work by engineers from the four countries who have set a high standard of safety, efficiency and quality in construction.
Hu said the four countries have their own specific advantages in energy industry and share conformity in the policy goals of developing energy industry.
He said in recent years, the four countries have actively carried out energy cooperation and achieved fruitful results in line with the principle of mutual complementarity, mutual benefit, equality and win-win cooperation.
President Hu traveled some 80 kilometers by car from the Turkmenabat Airport to the border town. He and other leaders were given warm welcome by the local people.
At the ceremony, the leaders spoke highly of the pipeline, saying the China-Central Asia gas pipeline will bring benefits to the whole region.
Hu said at present the international situation is undergoing profound and complicated changes. He called for the four countries to strengthen cooperation and work to promote common development of all countries in the region.
He said the China-Central Asia gas pipeline provided yet another important platform for regional cooperation. He called for the countries to apply the experience and model of this project to other fields of cooperation among the four countries so as to enhance regional economic cooperation in an extensive way and lay a solid foundation for institutionalizing and scaling up regional cooperation.
Hu said China and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are good neighbors whose people share long-standing friendship. In recent years, the sustained, healthy and steady growth of relations among the four nations has brought about substantial benefits to economic growth, social stability and improvement of international status of the four countries.
Hu said China places great importance on developing friendly cooperation with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. He expressed the wish that the four nations be good neighbors, friends and partners forever.
Chinese officials said that the pipeline will serve the long-term interests of China and Central Asian nations, and will promote social and economic development of the countries in the region.
Turkmenistan's state media said that transporting gas supplies to China is important for the implementation of the country's strategy to diversify energy export routes to world markets.
Turkmen President Berdymukhamedov said in an earlier interview with Chinese media that the gas pipeline is an embodiment of true partnership based on equality, mutual complementarity and full recognition and utilization of cooperative potentials. He said the completion of the pipeline opened up a greater prospect of bilateral cooperation.
"The project has truly realized the balance of interests among energy exporters, transporters and consumers," he told reporters.
Deimdet Sh. Shayakhmetov, general director of Asia Gas Pipeline LLP of Kazakhstan, said in an interview that construction of the gas pipeline has created a large number of job opportunities and prompted growth of relevant industries in Kazakhstan.
He said after the gas pipeline went into operation, Kazakhstan would reap in a handsome income from transport fees. The sub-line of the pipeline will supply much needed natural gas to southern part of Kazakhstan, Shayakhmetov said.
Shayakhmetov said the gas pipeline has opened up a new outlet of energy export for both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and will bring about a great deal of income from transport fees to the latter.
"In fact, the most significant point of the China-Central Asia gas pipeline lies in that we and our neighbors find more common interests and cooperative opportunities," Shayakhmetov said.
Chinese officials said the pipeline will help improve the energy structure of China.