By WAYNE MA
BEIJING -- China National Petroleum said that its Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline has started formal operations.
The pipeline, which took three years to complete, is 793 km long, passes through four Chinese provinces and can ship up to 12 Bcm of gas each year to China's southwestern Yunnan province, CNPC said in an in-house newsletter. A similar pipeline for transporting crude oil is expected to begin operations later.
The two pipelines have attracted protests in both countries over environmental and safety concerns.
In May 2013, Chinese protesters demanded authorities scrap plans to build a refinery
base near Kunming in southwest China to process crude piped in from Myanmar.
CNPC said an official ceremony to mark the start of the gas pipeline was held in Mandalay, with Myanmar's vice president, CNPC's president and the Chinese ambassador to Myanmar among the attendees. Construction
of the pipeline was completed in May 2013, and trial operations began in mid July 2013, it said.
The $2.5 billion Myanmar-China gas pipeline is part of China's overall strategy to boost and diversify imports of the cleaner burning fuel. China has targeted increasing natural gas's contribution to the country's energy mix to 10% by 2020 from less than 5% now. Although China imports LNG from many countries including Indonesia, Australia and Qatar, it has only imported natural gas via pipeline from Turkmenistan and, since the start of this year, Uzbekistan.
China imported a combined 24.7 Bcm of LNG and piped gas in the first half of 2013, up 25% from the same period a year earlier, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning agency.
Dow Jones Newswires