China, Russia Sign Major Gas Deal

China and Russia signed a long-awaited, 30-year agreement for natural gas worth an estimated $400 billion on Wednesday, securing the world's top energy user a major new source of the clean-burning fuel, Chinese state media and the AP reported.

The deal would see Russia supply 38 billion cubic meters of gas to China each year for 30 years under a contract valued in excess of $400 billion, Reuters news agency reported.

The gas will be transported along a new pipeline linking Siberian gas fields to China's main consumption centers near its coastline.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping witnessed the deal in Shanghai between Russian state-controlled company Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told Russian news agencies the contract was worth a total of $400 billion, according to the AP.

"This is a big deal that has been over a decade in the making," said Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, as reported by the French news agency AFP.

"The Russians in particular wanted to walk away from these meetings in China, highlighting that they have lots of other substantial options on the table in the face of tensions with the West over Ukraine," he said.

"Putin gets a big win and can go back home showing that he has also managed to finally conclude a discussion that had been going on for over a decade," he added.

The sticking point in negotiations between the two countries had been over the gas price.

Symbolically, for Putin the agreement represents a major triumph as he seeks to forge new partnerships in Asia while customers in Europe attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian gas in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine.

The deal also benefits China, which would get supplies that could help to ease gas shortages in the world's second-largest economy and curb reliance on coal.

Shares in Gazprom rose almost 2 percent in reaction to the announcement of the deal.

Some information for this reported provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

VOA News / May 22, 2014 07:54 KST