BEIJING, April 10 (UPI) -- A contract to send Russian natural gas to the Chinese market should be signed by the end of the year, the chairman of Russian energy company Gazprom said.
Chairman Alexei Miller met in Beijing with Zhou Jiping, chairman of China National Petroleum Corp., to discuss piping natural gas to China.
"The parties agreed that the contract would come into force before the end of 2014 and that the next round of talks would take place in Moscow in late April," Miller said in a statement Wednesday.
CNPC said both sides "spoke highly" of the importance of sending natural gas through a pipeline from Russia, which Gazprom said could be online by 2018.
The Chinese company said both sides agreed to the terms of the technical aspects of the pipeline, though business negotiations were ongoing.
Gazprom before tensions emerged over Ukraine's tilt toward the European Union had expressed interest in moving deeper into Asian markets, where expanding economies are taking on more natural gas to keep up with demand.
Gazprom said a 2009 framework agreement with CNPC calls for up to 2.4 trillion cubic feet worth of natural gas exports per year.