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Construction of the China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline Accelerates Exportation is Scheduled to Commence by the End of 2020

28 Dec 2017

East-Route Pipeline is currently the world’s largest natural gas pipeline by per-pipeline gas transmission volume. It’s also the first time for China to use X80 pipeline steels with design pressure of 12 Mpa, thus CNPE ascertains East-Route Pipeline is the first third-generation pipeline in China.

The China-Russia East-Route Natural Gas Pipeline (“East-Route Pipeline”) with the annual design capacity of 38 billion cubic meters has been accelerated since 13 December 2017, according to China National Petroleum Corporation (“CNPC”).

It is reported that East-Route Pipeline is currently the world’s largest natural gas pipeline by per-pipeline transmission quantity. It’s also the first time for China to use X80 pipeline steels with design pressure of 12 Mpa, thus CNPE ascertains East-Route Pipeline is the first third-generation pipeline in China.

According to the schedule, the northern section of East-Route Pipeline linking Heihe in Heilongjiang Province and Changling in Jilin Province will be completed in October 2019, and the middle and southern sections are set to be put into operation in 2020.

Upon completion, the natural gas contract with the total value exceeding US$400 billion, which was signed under the witness of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014, is set to be implemented.

According to the existing plan, East-Route Pipeline is set to put into operation in 2020 and the initial capacity will be 10 billion cubic meters per year, which is expected to help ease natural gas shortages in northeast China and also can fulfill the natural gas demands of cities in China's eastern provinces.

An insider told the reporter that East-Route Pipeline is scheduled to increase its annual capacity by 5-10 billion cubic meters until it reaches its full design capacity of 38 billion cubic meters per year, but concrete gas transmission volume will be worked out at a later date through consultation by two countries.

“Gas transmission volume will be discussed annually to ensure the supply of natural gas in all provinces and cities along the route next year,” the person added.

The reporter was also informed that there will be nine gas storage sites planned for East-Route Pipeline. Although the specific locations and storage capacities cannot be disclosed, the facilities will enable capacity beyond existing natural gas peak shaving units in eastern China with poor storage capacity.

Based on the publicly available information, the construction of East-Route Pipeline began in June 2015, and now can move ahead at full speed after CNPC’s announcement on 13 December. “A great deal of work and preparation went into the testing period, but now as a result, 48 research results have been turned into workable engineering standards.” The project manager told the reporter.

With no previous national nor international reference cases for the construction of “third-generation pipeline,” almost all of the project’s engineering standards needed to be created from scratch. “The process changes per inch of thickness of a pipe’s diameter. Full adoption of pipeline with a caliber of 1,422 millimeters to construct the northern section of East-Route Pipeline enhanced the difficulty of construction to reach an unprecedented level.” The project manager added.

Using X80 pipeline steels to construct East-Route Pipeline also puts higher requirements on domestic steel manufacturers and steel pipe plants. Since 2015, all suppliers have been working on improving their steel and related coil processing technologies.

Additionally, due to the thicker pipe walls, the semi-automatic welding technology (welding by hands), which commonly used for pipelines, cannot guarantee the pipeline’s construction timeframe and quality. Instead, the automatic welding rate of East-Route Pipeline is expected to reach 99% after the acceleration of construction this winter, which represents the highest level of pipeline construction in China.

“It is impossible to complete over 300,000 welded junctions with human labor alone as two workers can only complete one welding in one day,” said the project manager. “The new fully auto-welding system will not only guarantee the project’s quality, but also increase the efficiency and timeliness of the construction.”

The construction of East-Route Pipeline is also driving the development of domestic basic industries, including steel smelting, pipeline manufacturing and equipment manufacturing, as well as creating effective synergies between upstream and downstream enterprises in the pipeline industry.

Prior to the construction of East-Route Pipeline, onshore natural gas imported to China mainly from Central Asia and Myanmar. Natural gas from Central Asia imports to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong Province through West-to-East Pipeline, while China-Myanmar Pipeline supplies natural gas to several provinces in southwest and southeast China.

China's northern and eastern provinces have the fastest growing natural gas demand, thus lacking of a north-south natural gas pipeline not only limited the regional energy structure optimization, but also caused abnormal natural gas market volatility in related areas.

The northern section of East-Route Pipeline, which starts from Heihe in Heilongjiang Province and ends in Changling in Jilin Province, is projected to solve natural gas shortages problem in northeast China. The middle section, from Changling to Yongqing in Hebei Province, will connect to the gas pipeline network covering the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area. And the southern section, from Yongqing to Shanghai, will ensure natural gas supply for those provinces and regions along the route.

According to statistical data, after reaching its design capacity, East-Route Pipeline is set to reduce China’s carbon dioxide emissions by 163.78 million tons, sulfur dioxide emissions by 182 million tons, nitrogen oxide emissions by 460,000 tons, and dust emissions by amount 840,000 tons, and expected to promote energy restructuring in the northeast, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, and Yangtze river delta.

“Functionally, East-Route Pipeline will be able to combine the imported gas from Central Asia and Russia, and the domestic gas from China’s northwest gas field to ensure a stable natural gas supply,” said the project manager. “Overall, it will have far-reaching significance for optimizing the energy structure in all nine provinces and cities along the route.”

(Edit: Jia Honghui, Email: jiahh@21jingji.com)

(Source: http://epaper.21jingji.com/html/2017-12/14/content_76415.htm

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