China-Kazakhstan pipeline starts to pump oil
Updated: 2005-12-15 21:03
ATASU, Kazakhstan -- The 960-km pipeline linking China and Kazakhstan began
to carry oil to China on Thursday.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev pushed a button at the headquarters of
the national KazMunaiGaz company in the capital, Astana to open the flow from
the pipeline that starts in the central town of Atasu, 280 km south of Astana.
"It will work for the good of our two
peoples," Nazarbayev said.
Nursultan Nazarbayev presses a button on a touch-screen monitor in the
control centre of the Atasu-Alashenkou pipeline in Astana December 15,
The US$700-million pipeline, with an initial
annual capacity of 10 million tons and full capacity of 20 million tons, was
built by a joint venture between China National Petroleum Corp. and KazMunaiGaz.
The construction of the pipeline started in September 2004.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said China-Russia-Kazakhstan all-round
cooperation, in areas such as energy resources, is positive in pushing ahead
with common development while conforming to common interests.
He said China is willing to develop multiple energy sources in cooperation
with the other two partners in line with the principle of equality and mutual
benefit. The variety of sources range from oil and natural gas exploitation to
recyclable resources and clean energy.
The new pipeline starts in the
central Kazakh town of Atasu and runs to the Altaw Pass in northwestern China.
It will initially carry oil from the Kumkol field in central Kazakhstan, which
is being worked by CNPC following its acquisition of the field's operator
earlier this year.
By 2011, when it reaches full capacity, the pipeline is expected to be used
to ship oil from Russia's western Siberia.
The opening of the new pipeline is a small but important step in
Beijing's effort to reduce its reliance on Middle East supplies at a time when
the country's energy needs are soaring, oil analysts said.
Kazakh pipeline is small but it signals a real Chinese interest in trying to
move away from Middle East oil," said Kuen Woon Paik, a researcher at Chatham
House, a London think tank.
Chinese oil imports have soared in recent years as the demands of its booming
economy outstripped production at domestic fields that once supplied nearly all
of the country's needs.
But Beijing worries about possible threats to its supplies of Middle East
oil, which have to make a lengthy journey by sea, passing through Southeast
Asia's strategic Strait of Malacca.
Beijing also is negotiating with Russia over the construction of a proposed
pipeline to deliver Siberian oil. That line, to be completed as early as 2008,
would carry about 380,000 barrels per day.
"Both the Kazakh and Russian lines will help China get away from dependence
on Middle East oil, said Gavin Thompson, who works in Beijing for the British
oil consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
Most of China's oil imports come from the Persian Gulf and Africa.
Despite the Kazakh and Russian pipelines, most oil analysts believe China
will continue to rely heavily on Middle Eastern crude.
"The dependence of China on Middle Eastern crude is very significant and will
continue to be so," said Paik. "There is nothing it can do to change this."
A recent analysis by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the government's
main think tank, reached the same conclusion.
"It is an unarguable fact that China's dependence on
Middle East oil is increasing. And this reliance will continue," said its
report. "The Middle East will be the most important supply source of
international oil for China."