With one flick of a switch, Russia’s long-standing dominance and near monopoly over Central Asian natural-gas exports officially came to an end on Monday.
The Turkmenistan-China pipeline, which will carry natural gas from eastern Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, went on line on December 14 during an inauguration ceremony attended by regional leaders. It marks the first time in more than a decade that a pipeline has been constructed to pump gas out of the region, and is the biggest effort to date to export Central Asian gas without using Russian routes.
The ceremony in Samandepe, the starting point of the 1,833-kilometer pipeline that originates in Turkmenistan’s gas-rich but previously untapped east, took place just over three years after the China-funded project was agreed upon.
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