A working meeting between Gazprom, Russian state company Russian Highways (Avtodor), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) in Beijing this week led to the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a fuel and and contracts for infrastructure development for the international transport route “Europe-Western China” ( MTM EZK).
The agreements are part of The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, which is a development strategy proposed by Chinese president Xi Jinping. It focuses on connectivity between Asia and Europe and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia.
The Belt and Road Initiative aims to develop connectivity through building a vast network of roads, railways, pipelines, airports, sea ports, transnational electrical grids and fibre optic lines of communication though the creation of an economic land belt traversing Central Asia and the Middle East as well as a maritime road that links China with the ports of the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Mediterranean. The goal is to bolster trade by overcoming one of the biggest impediments to global growth, chronic lack of infrastructure.
The parties have agreed on cooperation in the field of infrastructure development, in particular the construction of complexes for the production and sale of LNG as a fuel for MTM EZK and implementation of long-term strategic cooperation in terms of development projects for the construction and operation highways. It is expected the LNG fuel agreement will encourage the development of cleaner-operating road transport vehicles on this new Pan-Eurasia network.
In May 2016 Avtodor introduced to the State Ministry of Transport of Russia, the first stage of pre-project work in relation to the Russian part of the route EZK including aggregated economic calculations, predictions of traffic intensity and a possible route for the transportation corridor. The project will be implemented on a public-private partnership (PPP) with the organization of individual toll stations and the ability to attract several independent companies that will in parallel undertake construction, function and operation of route segments.
The use of LNG as a fuel for MTM EZK will increase the economic attractiveness of the project, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions by truck.
The total length of the route on Russian territory will be about 2,300 kms. The entire east-west corridor stretches approximately 8,400 kms.