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Russia's deal to supply natural gas to energy-hungry China is the result of forward-looking policy
Russia's deal to supply natural gas to energy-hungry China is the result of forward-looking policy, a Western energy expert said Thursday. Roberto Centeno, an economist with the Polytechnic University in Madrid, said: "China has been a large energy consumer and faces a growing energy demand in the future. This is a long-term perspective. Russia has made the right choice clinching deals on energy supplies to China." Russian natural gas giant Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation signed a memorandum March 21 on Russian natural gas deliveries to China. Gas exports to China are expected to come from West Siberia during the first stage of the project to build a gas pipeline system to meet the energy-consuming giant's needs, and later from East Siberia, with exports to amount to 30-40 billion cubic meters of gas a year at each stage. A source in the Russian delegation that recently traveled to China with the Russian President Vladimir Putin said a $10-billion gas pipeline to the People's Republic could be commissioned in 2011. Centeno said Russia's move to the east was reasonable, as the country should search for an alternative to Europe-bound energy supplies. He added that Ukraine was to blame for Europe's concern over stable energy supplies resulting from January's gas spat between Russia and Ukraine, the main gateway for Russian natural gas exports to the West. The economist also highlighted other Russian-Chinese deals signed during Putin's visit to Beijing earlier this week, including agreements on the creation of joint ventures and power supplies to China. Turning to his own country, the economist said it was very important for Spain to strengthen economic ties with Russia as an alternate source of energy supplies that currently come from Africa. "Spain is very interested in the delivery of Russia's [energy] resources because we are highly dependent on Algiers in this regard," he said. "But it is not a simple issue, as it could be unprofitable for Russian companies. However, there may be a possibility for Spain to buy Russian gas, since German company E.ÎN and Spain's Endesa are expected to close a merger deal soon." German energy utility E.ON holds a 6.5% stake in Gazprom, and is a partner in the project to build a gas pipeline from Russia under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany, bypassing Ukraine's land-based pipelines. In late February, E.ON announced an offer for Endesa, Spain's largest electricity company, in a bid that would create the world's largest power and natural gas venture with about 50 million customers in more than 30 countries.
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