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China Plans Tibet Gas Pipeline

December 3, 2008

Dec. 01, 2008
By Lee Geng
Energy Tribune - Houston,TX,USA
 
 
In a move to supply fuel to Tibet, China’s state-run energy giant CNPC is planning to build a natural gas pipeline from Qinghai Province to Tibet. The feasibility study has been completed for the 1,365 kilometer pipeline, which is expected to carry gas from the Tainan gasfield in Qinghai’s Qaidam basin to Lhasa, Tibet’s capital, but China’s top government planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, has yet to approve it. The pipeline will have throughput capacity of 1.2 billion cubic meters per year.
 
The gas should help Tibet diversify and modernize its energy supplies. The country relies heavily on biomass, such as cow dung and firewood, for heating and cooking. Tibet’s non-biomass energy sources consist of oil, which accounts for 46 percent, liquefied petroleum gas for 5 percent, coal for 8 percent, and hydroelectric power for 41 percent.
 
The decision to build a gas pipeline to Tibet follows a failure to find major oil and gas deposits in the region. CNPC has drilled one well in Tibet’s Qiangtang basin, but there is not much to show for it. Last year, Sinopec set up a special team to explore the Naqu area covering 10,000 square kilometers in central Tibet. It carried out a two-year study in the Qinghai-Tibet basin, where Naqu is located, leading to estimates that the basin could hold 10 billion metric tons of oil and gas in place. In 1999, Sinopec reported a major hydrocarbon discovery at Tibet's Luenpola basin. An appraisal well at the basin, Lunqian 3, flowed an average of 214 barrels of oil a day during drilling. But the development plans hit a snag because the oil is too heavy to be economic. No word yet as to when the natural gas pipeline might begin construction.
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