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Turkmenistan to increase gas supplies to China to 65 Bcm/year

Ashgabat and Beijing have signed an agreement to increase supplies of Turkmen natural gas to China to 65 billion cubic meters/year from the previously planned 40 Bcm/year, according to a Wednesday statement on the website of Turkmenistan's government.

The agreement was signed during a state visit by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov to Beijing, during which he met his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

"In line with an intergovernmental agreement signed today, supplies of Turkmen gas to the People's Republic of China are to increase by 25 billion cubic meters [per year]," the statement cited Berdymukhamedov as saying after the talks.

Thus in the near future Turkmenistan is to supply a total of 65 billion cubic meters/year of natural gas, the statement said.

Apart from the gas deal, the parties signed a wide range of agreements on long-term cooperation in economic, financial, cultural and other spheres.

Following the meeting with Hu, Berdymukhamedov met Wen Jiabao, China's Premier, to discuss "opportunities for expansion of fruitful cooperation in the bilateral format as well as within the framework of influential international organizations, primarily the UN," the statement said.

Under a deal signed in 2006, Turkmenistan undertook to export a total of 30 Bcm/year of gas to China for 30 years. An agreement for additional supplies of 10 Bcm/year was signed by the two countries in 2008.

The exports of Turkmen gas to China started in 2009 via the second stage of the West-East gas pipeline.

Analysts estimate the already existing capacity of WE2 at 10 billion cubic meters/year at the least.

Supplies of Turkmen gas to China last year are estimated at around 2 Bcm. Ashgabat does not publish official export figures.

Turkmenistan expects to drastically increase the exports with the construction of additional capacities of the West-East pipeline network.

China's third West-East gas pipeline will begin operations by the end of 2013, carrying about 30 billion cubic meters a year of natural gas from Central Asia.

Work on a fourth and fifth West-East gas pipeline will begin after 2015, and both pipelines will have a capacity of 30 Bcm/year each.

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