Even as long-running talks on the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline continue, China has taken a major step towards securing access to the Central Asian nation's vast gas reserves.
Turkmenistan has agreed to increase its planned supply of natural gas to China by 25 billion cubic metres, said President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Beijing on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The two countries on Wednesday also signed a slew of deals to boost the gas supply, including loans for oil and gas equipment, after the visiting leader held a 90-minute talk with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Turkmenistan, which has the world's fourth largest gas reserves, already supplies China 40 billion cubic metres every year, with exports rising following the opening of a 1,833-km pipeline in 2009.
The two countries also agreed in a joint statement to “properly implement” the development of natural gas blocks along the Amu Darya river, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Both nations signed a deal in 2007 for the export of 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas annually for 30 years. Under the deal, the state-run China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) received rights to develop the Amu Darya gas fields.
Turkmenistan is keen to boost its energy ties with China as part of efforts to diversify its energy export destinations beyond Russia.
Turkmenistan's resources have also been increasingly targeted by Chinese state-run companies, as China looks to boost its energy ties with Central and West Asia and lessen its dependence on the narrow Malacca Straits, through which 77 per cent of China's crude oil imports pass, according to the International Energy Agency.