The third in a series of pipelines connecting mainland China with Central Asia has been launched. The pipeline, which will stretch from Turkmenistan into its eastern neighbor Uzbekistan and finally end up in China, was commemorated with a ribbon ceremony in Gazli, Uzbekistan. The line will connect with already extant lines A and B, which will allow the largely sino-funded pipeline to span a total of 1,840 kilometers. Up to 25 billion cubic meters per annum (Bcm/a) of natural gas are expected to be delivered to China via the new C pipeline, which, according to officials in the region, will “enhance total transmission capacity to 55 billion Bcm/a.”
Officials representing all current members of the multinational funding group behind the pipeline have prioritized safety during the construction of the pipeline, and have been quick to point to the fact that zero deaths were recorded during the construction of other stretches of the pipeline in 2008. China’s own China National Petroleum Corporation has instituted strict controls on all equipment used to assemble the pipeline, and has even banned vehicles participating in the project from traveling “outside the operating zone.” Measures governing the use of mature soil and the obligatory replacement of soil that has been removed have also been implemented, together with environmental concerns regarding animal crossings. Areas every two kilometers have been designed as animal crossings in order to allow for herds of cattle and sheep to pass over the pipeline without any danger to themselves.
China’s reach into Central Asia has boomed as its appetite has expanded beyond all the world’s commodities and now includes large amounts of Central Asian gas and oil. The use of economic ties as a means by which to expand relations with nations within its sphere of influence is not a new tactic, but it is one that China has utilized effectively in order to strengthen its presence in Central Asia.
- The Canadian gold mining conglomerate Сenterra could shut down the Kyrgyz Kumtor mine over permit delays, according to statements released on Monday. Kumtor is the second largest gold mine in the world, but has been plagued by problems of corruption, labor, and political instability. It also represents one of the largest sources of national income in Kyrgyzstan which is currently struggling to develop its economy. Unless a new mine plan is approved and permits are issued by June 13, the mine will shut down.
- Parents in Kyrgyzstan have increasingly begun to shun vaccination, according to a new article on EurasiaNet. “It’s a sin to try to prevent God’s will,” one parent was quoted as saying during the article. Initial fingers have been pointed at an increasing religious influence, but muftis such as Zhorobai Shergaziev says that the Muftiate makes no efforts to restrict the use of vaccinations as long as they do not contain pork or bring any harm to a child’s health. Doctors have become concerned that about attitudes on the issues at stake, especially the fact that inoculation in Kyrgyzstan is voluntary, and parents can decline by simply submitting a written statement.
- During a meeting in Tehran between the Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and New Technologies Aset Isekeshev with a Persian delegation, the two groups reached an agreement that would increase the volume of trade to about $5 billion, strengthening relations between the two states significantly. The agreements are centered around increasing transportation and transit relations between the two countries, mostly by air freight and over the Caspian Sea. This past March, Kazakh, Turkmen, and Iranian officials met to discuss a railway project.
- Line C of CNPC Central Asia-China gas pipeline has been turned on, with the flow of LNG being transferred from the Dauletebad gas fields in Turkmenistan, through Uzbekistan as of May 31. Line C is almost 2,000 kilometers long and will transport 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. Lines A and B have been in operation since 2009 and 2010.