Kazakhstan looks east

Aug. 6, 2008 at 1:43 PM
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ASTANA, Kazakhstan, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- The government of Kazakhstan joined with other Central Asian nations to transport natural gas to China, despite apparent Western interest in the region.

State-owned energy firm KazTransGas began laying the initial lines for a 938-mile pipeline in early July, bringing as much as 176 billion cubic feet of natural gas through the line by 2011 and 353 billion cubic feet from 2014, The Jamestown Foundation's Eurasia Daily Monitor said.

U.S. officials visited the region in July to explore energy relations in the midst of rising demand, but by that time Kazakh and Chinese manufacturing firms had already moved to bring the pipeline eastward.

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan said they may provide natural gas to the pipeline to China, though energy analysts worry over supply as proven reserves in the region are rough estimates at best.

Western firms have all but abandoned eastern Central Asia, however, and the Kazakh-China move signifies Kazakhstan is not interested in exporting to the West, the report says.

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