Myanmar has begun exporting natural gas from an offshore field to China, helping its huge neighbor to the north diversify its energy sources and help it avoid the potentially dangerous Strait of Malacca.
The pipeline, which is operated by China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC, will account for around 6 percent of China’s annual gas consumption if it runs at its full capacity of 12 billion cubic meters per year. The line connects China and Myanmar to the Indian Ocean.
A crude oil pipeline that is parallel to the gas line will be online in the beginning of 2014, the Financial Times said Tuesday.
“This has great strategic significance for China’s energy diversification and energy security” said Wang Dongjin, deputy general manager of CNPC.
China imports most of its oil from the Middle East and Africa, and the oil transits through strategic choke points along global sea routes.
Choke points like the Strait of Malacca are a critical part of global energy security planning because of the high volume of oil traded through such narrow straits. Currently oil tankers on the way to China and the Asian markets have to go through the Strait of Malacca, which links the Indian and Pacific Oceans, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration