“Friendship pipeline” boosts cooperation with neighbors: Kazakh manager

Dec. 9. Xinhua. ALMATY

By Anne Tang

"Friendship pipeline" boosts cooperation with neighbors: Kazakh managerThe Central Asian gas pipeline, which will go into operation next year, will boost cooperation with Kazakhstan’s neighbors and bring benefits to all in the region, the general manager of the Chinese-Kazakh joint venture Asian Gas Pipeline says.

In a recent interview with Chinese media, Beimbet Shayakhmetov said the construction of Line A of the dual pipeline has already been completed and ready for operation, while Line B is expected to begin to deliver gas in April or May next year.

The construction of the pipeline, which runs from the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, passing through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before reaching China, began in 2007.

Shayakhmetov said the 1,833-km pipeline is currently the longest gas pipeline in the world, with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China directly involved in the project and Russia, Germany, Britain and the United States participating to varying extents.

The project has drawn a lot of international attention and the entry into operation has great significance, said the general manager.

The project has created large numbers of jobs in Kazakhstan and the country will also benefit by collecting gas transit fees, he said, adding that gas needs in Almaty region will be met after Phase II of the project is completed.

The pipeline has opened a new gateway for energy exports for both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, with the latter also benefiting from receiving large amounts of transit fees.

“In fact, most important of all, through this project, we and our neighbors have found more common interests and opportunities for cooperation between us,” Shayakhmetov said.

Energy cooperation between Kazakhstan and China has reached a high level and bilateral cooperation in other areas has also been fruitful, Shayakhmetov said.

The two countries share a long border and China’s powerful economy has an important impact on Kazakhstan’s economic development, he said.

“During the Soviet era, Russia built a “friendship” natural gas pipeline leading to Europe. But in comparison, this Central Asian gas pipeline fully deserves the title of a “friendship pipeline,” as it can well rival that pipeline in its immediate significance,” he said.