Sila-Siberia Pipeline Construction 'ahead of Schedule'

The Chinese energy company Petrochina, which is the daughter of the state-owned CNPC (China National Petroleum Corporation), is to build a part of the Sila-Siberia gas pipeline on the Chinese territory before the end of 2019, with the supply of Russian "blue fuel" to begin late 2019 said the president and vice chairman of the enterprise, Wang Dongjin.

The power of the Siberia (Sila-Sibiria) gas trunkline will transport gas from the Irkutsk and Yakutia gas production centers to consumers in Russia’s Far East and China (eastern route).

Earlier, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said that, according to a signed agreement between the Russian gas holding company and the Chinese CNPC, Russian gas supplies via the Sila-Siberia pipeline will begin on December 20, 2019.

To date, slightly less than 1,000 km of the pipeline have been built, but by the end of 2017 more than 1,300 km will have been constructed, Gazprom announced last week. The Russian gas holding company also announced that the construction is running ahead of schedule. The total length of the gas pipeline will be about 3,000 km, and the total length of the pipeline within Russian territory will be 2,158 km.

It was also reported that the construction of the gas pipeline has encountered problems, one of them being the shallowing of the River Lena in Siberia. Even with summer soon drawing to a close, only 74.8% of the necessary cargo has been delivered to the pipeline route due to the abnormal shallowing of the main waterway of the region. At its lowest capacity since June 19, there is currently a restriction on the draft of vessels. On August 21, the water depth in the section of Ust-Kut-Kirensk was only 125cm, Kirensk-Ichera 155 cm, meaning small-sized vessels can be loaded by only 40%.

Yet, Gazprom is extremely interested in completing the work ahead of schedule, since then gas exports to the PRC will begin earlier. The contract for the supply of Russian "blue fuel" to China through the Sila-Siberia gas pipeline came into force two years ago, in May 2015. The timeframe for the start of fuel supplies is four to six years after the gas contract enters into legal force.

Gazprom and CNPC signed a contract for the purchase and sale of Russian gas on the "eastern" route (through the Sila-Siberia gas pipeline) in 2014. The contract is concluded for a period of 30 years and involves the supply to China of up to 38 billion cubic meters of gas per year. The construction of the gas pipeline started in 2015 and should end between May 2019 and May 2021.

An underwater link at the Amur will connect the Sila-Siberia with the gas transportation system of China. It will consist of two threads, each of which will be laid in a separate tunnel with a diameter of 2.44 meters.

David Smith

28 August 2017 16:55