By Associated Press, Published: November 23
BEIJING Turkmenistan will boost natural gas deliveries to energy-hungry China under an agreement signed Wednesday that will see the central Asian nation supply about half of Chinas gas needs.
The agreement will increase annual gas deliveries by 25 billion cubic meters a year, bringing the total to 65 billion cubic meters annually. Thats equivalent to more than half of Chinas entire natural gas consumption last year.
China, the worlds No. 2 economy, has been courting Turkmenistan and other former Soviet Central Asian republics to diversify and expand access to energy needed to power its fast-growing economy and reduce its reliance on heavily polluting coal.
The gas agreement was one of 14 signed following talks Wednesday between Turkmen President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Others cover loans for the purchase of oil and gas drilling equipment, police training, and counterterrorism.
During their meeting, Hu pledged to deepen energy cooperation with Turkmenistan following the success of a pipeline that the two countries opened in December 2009 that links to northwest China, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
On Thursday, Berdymukhamedov will attend the ceremonial opening of a $22 billion pipeline that will carry Turkmen gas to southern China. The 5,370-mile (8,700-kilometer) natural gas pipeline began operating in June, helping boost supplies to the countrys booming industrial zones. It is slated to provide up to 30 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year.
Berdymukhamedov is in China for a four-day visit, during which he will also meet with Chinas second most powerful official, Wu Bangguo, and Premier Wen Jiabao. He will also travel to the southern export powerhouse of Shenzhen and semiautonomous Hong Kong.