China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline fostering a shared future
Maintenance workers are on patrol inspection at the Horgos initial compressor station, the first station of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline in China, of the West Pipeline Company under China Oil & Gas Pipeline Network Corporation (PipeChina) in Horgos, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Feb. 4, 2021. (Xinhua/Ding Lei)
URUMQI/ASHGABAT, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Modiarov Behzod woke up at around 6 a.m. and refreshed himself, gearing up for yet another day of work deep in the desert.
The August sun had already begun to shine brightly, and the azure-blue sky was gradually clearing up after the sandy conditions of the previous night had dissipated.
Braving the heatwaves, Behzod, an operator in a natural gas field, and his colleagues headed to their workstation in the vast Karakum Desert, situated in the central Asian country of Turkmenistan, renowned for boasting the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves.
GAS FLOWING FROM CENTRAL ASIA TO CHINA
Behzod hails from Turkmenistan and pursued his university eduction in China. After completing his studies, he returned to his homeland to pursue a career in the natural gas industry with the China National Petroleum Corporation's (CNPC) Amu Darya River gas project, CNPC's largest overseas natural gas project with a peak production capacity of 41 million cubic meters per day.
The process of gas networks and their flow is highly intricate. Freshly extracted gas from over 100 wells scattered across the desert is channeled through gathering stations before being transported to the processing plant for a series of essential procedures including desulfurization, decarbonization, dehydration, and dehydrocarbonation.
After thirty minutes, the gas will reach the border area between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan 10 km away and merge into the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, jointly operated by CNPC and local partners.
Starting from the first compressor station, the natural gas in the pipeline will travel nearly 2,000 km eastward over the next 84 hours traversing wild deserts and grasslands, and reach the Chinese border city of Horgos in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
"There are four gas sources for the pipeline network. The two main gas sources are from Turkmenistan, accounting for three-quarters of the total intake. In addition, there are gas sources in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan," said Zuo Dong, director of the Shymkent office of the China-Kazakhstan natural gas pipeline joint venture of the Sino-Pipeline International Company, adding that the pipeline network has greatly boosted energy infrastructure interconnection between China and Central Asian countries.
NEW SILK ROAD OF ENERGY
On Dec. 14, 2009, the heads of state of China, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan jointly inaugurated the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline. As a part of the pipeline network runs parallel to the ancient Silk Road, the pipeline has been deemed the "new silk road of energy."
In Horgos, the gas is compressed again before it is conveyed further inland. Each day, up to 160 million cubic meters of gas can be processed here. To put it simply, 300 cubic meters of gas, enough to meet the needs of a household of three for a year, flows through Horgos in the blink of an eye.
From Horgos, the gas from Central Asia links up with China's West-to-East Gas Pipeline which transmits the gas further to various Chinese regions, including Shanghai, Fuzhou, and Hong Kong.
Data showed that in 2022, the Horgos Station delivered about 43 billion cubic meters of Central Asian natural gas via the pipeline, accounting for 11.8 percent of China's consumption in the same year.
Fu Mingfu, deputy general manager of West Pipeline Company under the China Oil & Gas Pipeline Network Corporation (PipeChina), said that as of now, more than 440 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Central Asia has been delivered, benefiting nearly 500 million people across China.
Through cooperation in the natural gas sector with China, Central Asian countries are also integrated into the huge energy market. In Turkmenistan, Dec. 14 has been designated as the Day of Oil and Gas Industry Workers, as this date marks the official inauguration of the pipeline.
"In Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, we have created more than 11,000 temporary positions and provided over 1,600 long-term jobs. Over the course of the 30-year operational span of the pipeline, it is also expected to generate tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue," said Meng Xiangdong, executive director of Sino-Pipeline International Company.
Currently, the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline network has three lines in operation, namely Line A, B and C, while Line D is under construction.
During the China-Central Asia Summit held in May this year, China proposed to forge a China-Central Asia energy development partnership, accelerate the construction of Line D of the China-Central Asia natural gas pipeline, increase oil and gas trade, develop energy cooperation across the industrial chain, and boost cooperation in new energy and for the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
STRENGTHENING HUMAN BONDS
The New Silk Road of Energy holds greater significance than just an energy transmission line. Recently, Chen Kuan's twin boys of mixed race celebrated their 5th birthday. The babies are named Yi Dai and Yi Lu, meaning "One Belt" and "One Road," respectively.
Chen Kuan is an employee of the China-Uzbekistan natural gas pipeline joint venture company. He was working as a cook with the joint venture, where fate intervened, bringing him together with Agafya, who was an employee at a gas compressor station. This twist of fate led to their deep and enduring love story.
In Chen's words, the pipeline not only connected China and Central Asian countries through an energy supply system but also gave him the chance to meet his wife Agafya.
"The friendship between China and the people of the countries along the route is growing ever stronger, and the road to happiness in the future will only extend longer," said Kairat Ospankulov, deputy general manager in charge of construction at the China-Kazakhstan natural gas pipeline joint venture.