China wants Russian gas to reduce dependence on the US and Australia
China imports nearly half of the gas, mostly in liquified form from Australia and the US. Only one gas pipeline connects Russia to China at present, but three are under construction. This will help China, but won’t be enough to compensate Russia for its loss of European markets.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – China is eyeing Russian gas to reduce its growing dependence on supplies from the United States and Australia and avoid the situation of Europe which is at odds with Russia following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine while depending on Russian gas, an informed source told Nikkei Asia.
China imports about 40 per cent of the natural gas it consumes, the biggest portion as liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Australia while just over 10 per cent comes from the United States. Last year, it overtook Japan as the world's largest gas importer.
Currently, the only gas pipeline between Russia and China is Power of Siberia, which has an annual capacity of 38 billion cubic metres (bcm), but sent only 10 billion last year because of limited transportation capabilities on the Russian side.
To boost supply, Beijing and Moscow are planning new pipelines. One will soon connect the Russian island of Sakhalin with the northwestern Chinese province of Heilongjiang. A second pipeline, the Power of Siberia 2, would see a pipeline pass through Mongolia.
A third project, the Altai gas pipeline, would go through Xinjiang, China’s autonomous region home of the Uyghur people, currently subjected to repression by Beijing, a situation under close scrutiny of the international community.
Overall, these new pipelines would in principle see Russian gas supplies to China reach 100 bcm per year, helping China diversify but doing too little to allow Russia to compensate for losses in Europe, whose average annual imports range between 170 and 200 bcm.
What is more, shifting from European markets to China would require heavy investments in infrastructure. The gas exported west to Europe comes from different fields than those that would supply China, and there are no pipelines connecting them.