China appears to be buying an expensive insurance policy for natural gas imports from Central Asia with its plans to build a pipeline through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Since 2006, China has invested heavily in developing gas imports from Turkmenistan, opening its Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CAGP) across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the end of 2009.
So far, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has built two strands of the CAGP and plans to complete a third on the 2,000-kilometer (1,242-mile) route to Xinjiang this year.
The growing gas imports from Central Asia have assumed increasing importance to China as it seeks to reduce its reliance on high-polluting coal.
Last year, the CAGP system supplied some 27 billion cubic meters (953 billion cubic feet) of gas to China, accounting for over half of its gas imports and nearly one-sixth of its consumption, according to figures from CNPC and Platts energy news.