BEIJING, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- Turkmenistan will substantially increase its annual natural gas deliveries to energy-hungry China under an agreement signed in Beijing.
China Daily quoted the leader of the energy-rich Central Asian nation as saying gas deliveries to China would go up by 25 billion cubic meters to an annual total of 65 billion cubic meters "in the near future," but gave no other details. The new total would equal more than half of China's entire natural gas consumption last year, China Daily reported.
The two leaders agreed to establish a long-term and stable strategic energy partnership, the report said.
An 1,138-mile long gas pipeline between the two countries became operational in 2009.
The report said China, the world's second-largest economy, has been diversifying and expanding its access to energy to reduce reliance on heavily polluting coal. Turkmenistan, on the other hand, has been seeking to diversify its energy exports to reduce dependence on sales to Russia.
The two countries signed other agreements, including loans to Turkmenistan for purchase of oil and gas drilling equipment, public security cooperation, combating money laundering and tackling terrorism.
Berdymukhamedov was quoted as saying his country appreciates China's respect for Turkmenistan's neutral status.
The Wall Street Journal said increased gas supplies from Turkmenistan would significantly expand China's access to the clean-burning fuel especially during winter when its experiences shortages.
Analysts told the Journal China's gas consumption for all of 2011 was expected to exceed 130 billion cubic meters.
China is also seeking to get gas supplies from Russia but the two countries thus far have not been able to resolve pricing issues.