MOSCOW, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said its top officials met with the Chinese ambassador to Russia to discuss long-term natural gas supplies.
Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller hosted Ambassador Li Hui in Moscow.
"The parties addressed the progress with and the prospects for strategic cooperation, placing a special emphasis on the Russian pipeline gas supply to China," the Russia company said in a statement Monday.
Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp. in May signed a 30-year contract calling for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year sent through the so-called Power of Siberia pipeline.
Gazprom said it started working on the infrastructure necessary for the pipeline almost immediately after signing the contract in May. Russian officials said construction on the pipeline should begin next month.
Gazprom has been looking to expand into the growing Asian market in an effort to diversify an asset base tied to a European economy still struggling to grow. Ongoing disputes over gas debt in Ukraine, which transports the bulk of Russian gas supplies to Europe, adds another layer of risk to Gazprom's consumer foundation.
First deliveries from the Power of Siberia pipeline through a contract valued at $400 billion could start as early as 2018.