Russia switched on an enormous gas pipeline to China worth billions of dollars Monday, affirming increasingly close economic and political ties between the two countries, CNN reports.
Named the “Power of Siberia,” the pipeline runs more than 8,100 kilometers (5,000 miles) across the two countries, according to Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua, and will deliver 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually by 2024. It will be operated by Russia’s state-owned company Gazprom.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin watched via video link as the pipeline was inaugurated, before congratulating each other on an historic moment.
“That step brings the Russian-Chinese strategic partnership in the energy sector to a whole new level,” Putin said in a statement to news agency TASS.
TASS added that deliveries had started flowing through the pipeline as of Monday, although the amount will start small and then ramp up over the years.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced to both leaders that the pipeline had been opened via video link. “Gas is flowing to the gas transmission system of the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
A 30-year deal was signed by Putin and Xi in 2014, and while a final figure has not been announced, it is believed to be worth more than $400 billion, CNN adds.
China has been trying to move away from coal and toward alternative forms of power in the past few years, as the country tackles a severe air pollution problem and growing concerns about its carbon emissions.