9 Apr 2010 14:13

China to start building 3rd West-East Pipeline within the year

By Victor Wang

Shanghai. April 9. INTERFAX-CHINA - China is ready to start building the country's third West-East Pipeline (WEP III) project within the year, the central government announced on April 8.

WEP III will extend from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to the southeastern province of Guangdong, passing through Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Henan, Hubei and Hunan Provinces/Autonomous Regions. The pipeline, which will have an annual gas transmission capacity of 30 billion cubic meters, will deliver imported natural gas from central Asia.

WEP III will consist of two sections - a western section extending from Xinjiang to Zhongwei City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and an eastern section extending from Zhongwei City to Shaoguan City Guangdong Province.

The western section of the pipeline is scheduled to start operation in 2012, while the eastern section will be operational in 2014, the Chinese government said on its official government website (www.gov.cn).

Due to concerns about the environmental ramifications of using traditional thermal energy sources, China has been rapidly expanding the consumption of cleaner-burning natural gas in recent years. The government's goal is to make natural gas account for 5.3 percent of overall domestic energy consumption by the end of 2010, up from only 2.8 percent in 2005.

China hopes the 30,000 kilometers of natural gas pipelines built between 2008 and 2010 will help facilitate increased natural gas usage by both industrial and residential consumers. By 2015, the total length of natural gas pipelines in China is expected to top 100,000 kilometers.

WEP I in China, which links western China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region to the eastern municipality of Shanghai, has been operational since late 2003, and is capable of transporting 12 billion cubic meters per year of Xinjiang-produced natural gas. It is in the process of boosting its transportation capacity to 17 billion cubic meters per year.

WEP II also links Xinjiang to southern Guangodng Province and Hong Kong. Using natural gas imported from central Asia via the Sino-Turkmenistan Natural Gas Pipeline, it has an annual transportation capacity of 30 billion cubic meters and began operation at the end of last year.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), the country's largest oil company, is also considering building a fourth West-East Pipeline (WEP) project, state media reported in June 2009. However, the route and source of the fourth WEP remains undecided.