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China and Kazakhstan inked agreements on Saturday to expand a crucial oil pipeline.
Meeting ahead of a regional economic forum, President Xi Jinping also told his Kazakhstan counterpart Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev that both countries should speed up cooperation with each other.
Among the agreements signed after the meeting on Saturday, Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGas National Oil and Gas Co and China's CNPC have agreed on the major principles of cooperation to expand and operate the China-Kazakhstan oil pipeline.
The 1,200-km-long oil pipeline, which has been in operation since June 2006, has seen a total export of 50 million tons of crude oil from 2006 to 2012 from the oil-rich Central Asian country to China, according to CNPC data. The volume of crude shipped has been rising on average by 20 percent a year.
Kairgeldy Kabyldin, the chief of KazTransOil, told Reuters in March that Kazakhstan will boost oil exports to China by 20 percent to 12 million metric tons this year and it hopes to further increase capacity.
The annual capacity of the China-bound pipeline was 14 million tons, and exports to China stood at 10 million tons in 2012.
"We hope to start the expansion (of the pipeline) to 20 million tons this year," he was quoted by Reuters as saying, without giving a timetable.
Kazakh officials said earlier that the Central Asian oil-rich country plans to boost oil production output to 120 million tons a year by 2020, from the current 82 million tons, and expects a jump in output later this year when production starts at Kashagan, one of the world's largest oil fields.
Besides the pipeline expansion agreement, the two countries have seen the China Council for Promotion of International Trade and Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna agree on establishing a Chinese- Kazakh Business Council.
In addition, Samruk-Kazyna has signed a Roadmap Program to strengthen economic and investments-related relations with China's CITIC Group.
During the meeting on Saturday, China pledged to increase the number of border ports and transnational airlines.