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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Uzbeks and Chinese Ink Gas Deal

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- Uzbekistan plans to build a gas pipeline to China with a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters per year, equivalent to half the Central Asian state's gas production, the Uzbek government said in a statement.

The statement said Ma Kai, the head of China's top state planning body, and Uzbek Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov signed an agreement in Tashkent on Monday about the principles of building and running a pipeline along the route.

"It would be 530 kilometers long and have a throughput capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of the resource every year. The project includes a plan to bring two compressor stations on stream," the statement said.

The statement did not give a timeframe or name participants in the project. Last month an Uzbek government source said Sinopec, China's No. 2 oil firm, had pulled out of a project to explore new Uzbek projects and revitalize stalled projects with state energy firm Uzbekneftegaz. The source said Uzbekistan would focus instead on cooperation with another Chinese oil major, China National Petroleum.

Uzbekistan has traditionally supplied gas not to China but to Russia, where Gazprom controls pipeline networks threading into the lucrative European market. A pipeline could diversify China's energy supplies while allowing Uzbekistan to break free of Gazprom's control and play China and Russia off against each other.