The mainland's 43.5 billion yuan west-east pipeline project is expected to start operations soon, with the final welding of the 4,000km-long link completed yesterday, state media reported.
The gigantic project, which has the capacity to pump up to 20 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year from the isolated Tarim Basin in Xinjiang to the booming coastal areas, will start a trial run in October, according to China Central Television.
The pipeline would be fully operational from the beginning of next year.
Early this year, the eastern section of the pipeline began supplying natural gas to Shanghai and four neighbouring provinces.
The section, stretching about 1,500km from northern Shaanxi province to Shanghai, supplies 500 million cubic metres of natural gas a year to the coastal area.
The newly completed western section stretches more than 2,000km to the heart of the desert area in Xinjiang, where gas reserves are located.
As one of four major infrastructure projects in the 10th five-year plan, the pipeline runs through 10 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. The gas delivery link is part of the central government's strategy to develop the vast underdeveloped western region, which is rich in natural resources, according to central government officials.
An official from the Office of the Leading Group for Western Region Development of the State Council said that it was a win-win project for both the eastern and western regions.
'By connecting the gas reserves in western China with markets in the east, it can fully exploit the western region's advantage in resources and develop its economy.'