MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) – Chinese President Xi Jingping and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguli Berdymukhammedov opened a giant natural gas field in Turkmenistan that will vastly increase the ex-Soviet nation’s energy supplies to Beijing, Turkmenistan media reported Wednesday.
The two leaders participated in an opening ceremony for gas processing facilities at the Galkynysh (“Renaissance”) field in the southeastern Mary province that borders Afghanistan, the state-run Turkmenistan Segodnya website said.
Galkynysh is the world’s second largest natural gas deposit with reserves of up to 26.2 trillion cubic meters, according to international petroleum consultants Gaffney, Cline & Associates.
The field is expected to produce 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year for China, with Turkmenistan’s total gas exports to China planned to reach 65 billion cubic meters a year following the start of production at the field, the state-run Turkmengaz company said in May.
China loaned Turkmenistan $8 billion to develop the field that will export its gas to China via an 1,800-kilometer (1125 mile) pipeline that runs across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
Turkmenistan has already become China’s largest supplier of natural gas, responsible for 51 percent of Beijing's gas imports, according to BP’s “Statistical Review of World Energy 2013.”
The arid Central Asian nation of 5 million is the world’s fourth-largest producer of natural gas, according to BP's review.
On Tuesday, China National Petroleum Corp and state-run company Turkmengaz signed an agreement to supply 25 billion cubic meters of gas a year to China, Turkmenistan Segodnya said.
Last year, Turkmenistan supplied 20 billion cubic meters of gas to China, according to Turkmen government figures quoted by Reuters.