MOSCOW, October 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russian energy giant Gazprom and China's CNPC have begun consultations on natural gas deliveries via the western route to China, Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said Monday.
"The intergovernmental agreement is expected to be signed today. It has been fully harmonized and includes the western route, as well as an article on the eastern route. The consultations on the western route began yesterday [October 12]. I hope that the results would be achieved by November," the official said.
China has also proposed that Gazprom invest in the development of pipeline infrastructure on the territory of China, the deputy energy minister added.
"As for Gazprom, I want to remind you it offered its services in developing pipeline infrastructure in China once. The project was not given the go-ahead back then. Meanwhile, in the framework of the intergovernmental agreement on the eastern route ... China is inviting Gazprom to consider investing in the pipeline infrastructure on the territory of the republic," Yanovsky told reporters.
Gazprom can also get into gas distribution business in China, the official added.
"They [the Chinese side] said that if Gazprom is interested not only in wholesale gas supplies but, simply put, in retail, that is, distribution on the territory of China, then there is such a possibility. In other words, it is a question of taking part in this business, in gas distribution," Yanovsky said.
The discussion on western route deliveries emerged after Gazprom and CNPC in May inked a contract on the annual export of 38 billion cubic meters of Russian gas via eastern route to China for a 30-year period starting 2018. The eastern route entails the delivery of Russian gas to China along the Power of Siberia trunk gas pipeline.
On September 1, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller assured that the company will be ready to sign a contract with CNPC for gas supplies to China via the western route in November. For these purposes, Gazprom considered construction of the Altai gas pipeline, which would go through the Altai Mountains and connect west Siberian gas fields with China.