Late Monday Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin jointly launched the major unprecedented cooperative project that had been years in the making called the 'Power of Siberia' gas pipeline.
The China-Russia east-route pipeline is now providing China with Russian natural gas, which according to Chinese state media is expected to reach 5 billion cubic meters in 2020 and increase to 38 billion cubic meters annually from 2024.
Crucially, S&P Global Platts estimates that total sales through the pipeline is projected to meet nearly 10% of China's entire gas supply by 2022, ensuring vital energy security as Beijing continues to feel the pressure and uncertainty of the trade war with Washington.
The ceremony to officially bring the pipeline online was held as a video call between Xi and Putin was underway. Xi told Putin: "The East-route natural gas pipeline is a landmark project of China-Russia energy cooperation and a paradigm of deep convergence of both countries' interests and win-win cooperation."
The deal had been cemented in May 2014 when Russian gas giant Gazprom signed a 30-year contract with China National Petroleum Corp, after which the pipeline agreements were signed with both leaders present in Shanghai in later 2014.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced to both leaders that the pipeline had been opened via video link. "Gas is flowing to the gas transmission system of the People's Republic of China," he said.
Gazprom will oversee operation of the mammoth pipeline which runs more than 8,100 kilometers (5,000 miles) across the two countries.
President #Putin and Chinese President #Xi Jinping launch "Power of Siberia" gas pipeline.— Enrico Ivanov (@Russ_Warrior) December 2, 2019
This is a breakthrough in the energy market that will have major geopolitical repercussions. pic.twitter.com/ZKBXpe9RF4
Xi hailed the pipeline's inauguration as signaling a new start in future China-Russian cooperation and partnerships. And as Putin noted in his comments, the pipeline's launch date coincided with the 70th anniversary of Russia-China diplomatic ties.
Putin also projected that 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas will flow through the pipeline from Russia over the next 30 years.
The pipeline crosses over to China from Russia's Blagoveshchensk, also site of the first major road bridge between the two.
"That step brings the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership in the energy sector to a whole new level," Putin stated to TASS news agency.
In a worrisome sign for Washington as Moscow further cements its energy dominance in the east, the 'Power of Siberia' is but the first of a planned for three total major pipeline projects. It will later be joined by ‘TurkStream’ and ‘Nordstream2’, according to official statements.