BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Construction of China's third pipeline that will send natural gas from the nation's resource-rich western regions to the energy-starved east started on Tuesday.
The pipeline is expected to transmit 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually. It will measure 7,378 km and cross 10 provinces and autonomous regions, including Xinjiang, Gansu, and Ningxia.
The third pipeline is a key project approved this year by the State Council, the country's Cabinet. It consists of one trunk line and eight branch lines.
The trunk line will measure 5,000 km. It will start from Horgos in Xinjiang and end at Fuzhou, capital city of Fujian.
The project is expected to be completed before 2015. Around 25 billion cubic meters of gas will come from central Asian countries each year, meanwhile, five billion cubic meters of gas will come from Xinjiang, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC).
The new project is expected to cost 125 billion yuan (19.7 billion U.S. dollars) to build, according to the CNPC.
Ceremonies were held in Beijing, Fujian Province in east China, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the northwest to mark the launch of the construction.
The CNPC, Baosteel and China's Social Security Fund agreed in May to jointly invest in the scheme through a joint venture company. The project is also open to private investment.
As the top shareholder of the joint venture company, CNPC holds a 52-percent stake.
The first pipeline, crossing 10 provinces and regions, has transferred more than 138 billion cubic meters of gas since 2004. The pipeline starts from Xinjiang and ends in Shanghai.
The second pipeline, measuring around 8,700 km, can transfer 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually, and will be fully operational by the end of the year. It starts from Xinjiang to Guangdong Province in the south.