In March 2006, Russia's energy giant Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation signed a protocol on gas supplies from Russia to China. The protocol covers the timeframe, volume and routes of gas supplies and the gas price formula.
The Altai gas pipeline is considered the principal gas route - the western route - to connect gas deposits in West Siberia with provinces in western China through the Republic of Altai. Gazprom will also deliver gas via a route from Russia's Far East. Gas supplies via both routes will total 68 billion cubic meters a year and are expected to start in 2011.
"At present we have finished technical and economic assessment of the [Altai] project," said regional leader Alexander Berdnikov.
A Russian-Chinese expert group will prepare a feasibility study of the Altai project by the end of this year, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Energy said.
"A group of experts under a Russian-Chinese working group is working on the Altai project and we are expecting positive results by the end of the year," Igor Shcheupov said Wednesday at a roundtable on cooperation between Russia and China in the energy sphere.
Russia is already a major supplier of crude to the world's second largest consumer, but gas supply routes from Siberia to the Chinese cities of Daqin and Shanshan remain on the drawing board, as does another route from the offshore Sakhalin energy project to the northeastern city of Harbin. China is seeking to double the share of natural gas in its total primary energy balance to 6% by 2010.