The Russia-China 'Power of Siberia' Natural Gas Pipeline Officially Begins Service

A car drives in front of facilities of Amur gas processing plant under construction part of Gazprom's Power Of Siberia project outside the far eastern town of Svobodny in Amur region Russia

The 3,000-kilometre (1,850- mile) pipeline - which Putin has called "the world's biggest construction project" - will supply China with 38 billion cubic metres (1.3 trillion cubic feet) of gas annually when fully operational in 2025.

The pipeline will diversify Russia's gas market while providing China with an alternative steady gas supplier, said Alexei Belogorey, deputy executive director on energy studies at Russia's Institute for Energy and Finance Foundation.

Called the "Power of Siberia", the cross-border gas pipeline, according to the official news agency, Xinhua, is over 8,000 km long with a 3,000-km section in Russian Federation and a 5,111-km stretch in China.

From Heihe, Heilongjiang, the eastern pipeline will eventually stretch through nine cities ending in Shanghai, and provide gas for more than 300 million residents of the Yangtze delta, the Bohai coast and northeast China.

Meanwhile, Moscow and Beijing are negotiating the launch of a second part to the mega-project, namely Power of Siberia 2, aimed at providing industrial areas along China's eastern coast with Russian natural gas.

Moscow began supplying natural gas to western and central Europe in the 1950s and Europe has always been Russia's major consumer of gas, supplied by Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom, with total annual supplies of around 200 bcm.

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The east-route pipeline is part of a 30-year contract between Russia's Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation that was signed in 2014-a deal estimated to be worth $400 billion over the course of its operation. Its first stop in China is the northeastern city of Heihe in the Heilongjiang Province bordering Russian Federation. The pipeline posed an engineering challenge, traversing swamps, rocky mountains, areas prone to earthquakes and regions of permafrost where the temperature fell to minus-58 degrees last winter.

Putin hailed the pipeline, highlighting that this year marks 70 years of Russia-China relations, adding that it "brings us closer to the goal we set with President of China Xi Jinping to increase bilateral trade to $200 billion by 2024".

The pipeline serves as a model of.mutually beneficial cooperation between our countries, Xi said. He also hosted Russian Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday, saying that Beijing and Moscow would stand together against interference from Washington and others.

Regarding Russia-China energy cooperation, Belogorey said Chinese companies have already participated in the Yamal liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Arctic Russia and the Arctic LNG-2 project, the two largest of their kind in Russia.

The pipeline's capacity could further increase beyond 2024, PetroChina Vice President Ling Xiao said in June.

Russian Federation began seeking alternative economic partnerships after the USA and European Union imposed sanctions over its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014. For example, previously most Russian gas exports went to Europe.

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