The China-Russia east-route natural gas pipeline began operations recently with its official launch by Russian President, Vladimir Putin and Chinese President, Xi Jinping when they turned on the Power of Siberia (the cross-border gas pipeline). This massive new pipeline is set to propel bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, providing a significant boost to both sides.
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned giant in gas, claims it is expected to generate 400 billion U.S. dollars in revenue, which is its largest export contract ever. The pipeline is expected to strengthen the strategic alliance between the two sides at a time when both China and Russia are pushing back against the global influence of the United States and its allies.
Xi took part in a video call with his Russian counterpart Putin recently, as the two heads of state jointly witnessed the launch ceremony of the pipeline. At the inauguration ceremony, Putin stated that the contract kick-started an unprecedented high-tech project in eastern Russia. He added that the launch had lifted bilateral strategic coordination to a new level for the two countries.
The Power of Siberia is an impressive feat of engineering, traversing rocky Mountains, swamps, areas prone to earthquakes, and regions of permafrost. From the newly developed Chayanda gas field in the frigid northern Russian region of Yakutia, it stretches more than 1,300 miles (2,200 kilometres) southeast to the Chinese border. It crosses beneath the Amur River and enters Heilongjiang province, in north-eastern China and passes through not only treacherous terrain but also faces extreme environmental conditions. The absolute lowest air temperatures along the route range from –41°C (-105.8°F) in the Amur Region to –62°C (-143.6°F) in the Yakutia.
Gazprom uses advanced, highly reliable and energy-efficient technologies and equipment in the construction of the Power of Siberia. The major factors in equipment selection were reliability and cost-effectiveness.
The Power of Siberia also contributes to socio-economic development in Russia’s far East. The gas pipeline facilitates gas supplies and gas infrastructure expansion in the Russian regions. It also contributes to the advancement of state-of-the-art gas processing and gas chemical facilities.
Alexei Belogorey, Deputy Executive Director on Energy Studies at Russia’s Institute for Energy and Finance Foundation stated that the pipeline would diversify Russia’s gas market while providing China with an alternative steady gas supplier. Belogorey added that China and Russia could jointly tap potential markets. He stated that Russian companies could build gas transmission grids and underground gas storage in China with their unique expertise in the field.