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China taps railway for importing liquefied gas from central Asia

10:34, June 15, 2010     Source: Xinhua

China is diversifying its methods of importing energy from neighbor countries in central Asia as a train carrying 45 tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Kazakhstan reached the country's inland port of Alataw Pass on Monday in the northwest Xinjiang region.

It also marked the first time China imported energy from central Asia using railroads, rather than pipelines, since the founding of new China back in 1949.

"Central Asia is rich in oil and gas. China's state-owned oil giant CNPC has made large investments in recent years to purchase and explore resources in the region," said Gao Hongbo, general manager of a privately-run logistics and financial services company based in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"Oil and gas could be transported through pipelines but the liquefied gas, obtained as a by-product from the refining of petroleum, could not be effectively transported due to the product's nature, causing huge waste," Gao said.

Gao said the only option is to import the liquefied gas using railways, given current circumstances.

But China's railways use the standard gauge (distance between rails at 1,435 mm), which is different from its Central-Asian neighbors' broad rail gauge (distance above 1,435 mm), and special lines need first to be built for the mass importing of LPG.

Gao said his company has so far spent 300 million yuan (44 million U.S. dollars) in building nine broad-gauge rails and six standard gauge rails in Alataw Pass. These lines are expected to import 50,000 tonnes of LPG this year.

The company plans a total of 21 lines to be built, and the annual capacity of these lines is expected to reach 200,000 tonnes of LPG during the next three years.

These lines, when completed, will also be used to import 500,000 tonnes of oil each year and 2.5 million tonnes of commodities and mineral resources from central Asia.    
(Extracted By Sean)