Dec. 27 (UPI) -- China will start getting natural gas directly from Russia through the Power of Siberia pipeline in less than two years, the chairman of Gazprom said.
The board of directors at Russian energy company Gazprom signed off on plans last week for 2018, noting gas transmission lines like Power of Siberia and the doubling of the twin Nord Stream network crossing the Baltic Sea to the shores of Germany were at the top of the agenda.
In an address marking the New Year, Gazprom's top executive, Alexei Miller, said about 850 miles of the gas pipeline to China will have been completed by Tuesday, the start of 2018.
"That is two-thirds of the pipeline's length," he said in his remarks. "And I can say with absolute certainty that on Dec. 20, 2019, we will start supplying gas to China."
Gazprom has a 30-year sales agreement with China National Petroleum Corp. that calls for 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas per year through the pipeline. China also holds a minority stake in a liquefied natural gas facility on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia, alongside French energy company Total and Novatek, the largest private natural gas company in Russia.
The Kremlin described the 2,500-mile Power of Siberia as a way to tie the Russian energy sector to two poles of the economic world. Russia meets about a quarter of the European energy demand, but has at times focused its economic efforts on the expanding economies in Asia.
Apart from the pipeline itself, Miller said construction started at a gas processing plant that he said will be the largest plant of its kind in Russia.
"The facility is a crucial link in the chain of gas supplies to China," he said.
China is the second-largest economy in the world behind the United States. In its latest forecast, the World Bank said Chinese growth for the year should be around 6.8 percent, supported by improvements in household incomes and external demand.