PetroChina plans to build a 3.5 billion yuan crude oil pipeline to feed its 50 billion yuan refinery and petrochemical project in Sichuan province, the first such large-scale project in southwest China. The pipeline is an important missing link between the fast-growing markets in southwest China and crude oil sources in the northern and northwest regions of the country, as well as the Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan. PetroChina, the nation's largest oil and gas producer, is conducting a feasibility study on a plan to build a 1,247km crude oil pipeline linking Lanzhou, Gansu province, and Chengdu, site of the proposed 10 million tonne a year refinery and 800,000 tonne petrochemical plant, a company spokesman said, confirming a report in a mainland daily. He declined to give any timeframe for the pipeline. The projects are key to enhancing fuel and chemical self-sufficiency of the landlocked southwest region, whose economic growth has been sped up by Beijing's push to develop the resource-rich but poor western region. The pipeline will be capable of moving up to 10 million tonnes of oil a year, Western China Metropolis Daily quoted unidentified officials of Sichuan province's Development and Reform Commission as saying. PetroChina last month signed a framework agreement with the Sichuan government on the construction of the refinery and the plant to produce ethylene, a base product used to make other chemicals, according to Sichuan party secretary Du Qinglin. The spokesman said the crude oil transported by the pipeline may be sourced from PetroChina's own oilfields in Tarim Basin in the Xinjiang autonomous region, Changqing in Shaanxi province, and Kazakhstan. PetroChina's parent, China National Petroleum Corp, has built a 1,200km pipeline to send crude oil from Kazakhstan to Dushanzi, near the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border, where it is undergoing major expansion of its oil refinery and petrochemical plants. CNPC last year also finished building a crude oil and a refined fuel pipeline, each 1,859km long, to link Urumqi in Xinjiang with Lanzhou, where it is also expanding refining and petrochemical production capacities. Lanzhou is being considered by the central government to keep western China's first national strategic oil reserve.