Mapping Chinese Oil and Gas Pipelines and Sea Routes

P. K. Gautam was a Consultant at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detail profile.
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  • July 2011

    China is pursuing an energy policy to alleviate its import dependence, diversify the sources and routes of imported oil and prepare for supply disruption. China's import of hydrocarbons is growing rapidly. Besides sea transport from West Asia and other oil rich countries of both crude and liquefied natural gas, China has also identified diverse import routes for oil and gas by overland pipelines. Some projects are now complete and many are under construction or in the planning stage. China is concerned that growing dependence on imports will create foreign policy and economic pressures that might threaten national security and social and political stability. Safe sea passage of hydrocarbon imports is one driver for energy security. There is an ongoing debate within China whether to ensure a safe sea passage by complementing its blue water by a national tanker fleet or rely on global markets for supply security. Oil and gas routes and pipelines also mirror the operational issue of geopolitics and foreign policy. The article evaluates the current and future developments in Chinese hydrocarbon pipelines and sea routes. It attempts to examine the security and strategic discourse in the unfolding land and sea routes for oil and gas route imports.