Russian gas producer Gazprom said natural gas exports to China went up 60 per cent in the first four months of the year from the same period of 2021. It comes as Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted many major buyers – especially those in Europe – to reduce their gas purchases from Russia . Gazprom on Sunday also said natural gas sales to non-Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries had dropped to 50.1 billion cubic metres in the first four months – down 26.9 per cent from a year earlier. The Russian gas exports were supplied to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, which began operating in 2019 . Some 4.1 billion cubic metres were delivered through the pipeline in 2020 and the aim is to supply 38 billion cubic metres – its full capacity – by 2025, according to the Gazprom statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin in February signed an estimated US$117.5 billion of oil and gas deals with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. They included a contract for Gazprom to supply China with 10 billion cubic metres of gas a year via a new pipeline – the Power of Siberia 2 – that will run from the island of Sakhalin, in the Russian Far East, to Heilongjiang province in China’s northeast. “Considering the contract signed in February, Russian gas shipments to China via the Far East routes could reach 48 billion cubic metres per year,” the state-owned gas producer said. The new pipeline is expected to be up and running by 2026 and will mean that – together with the existing pipeline – the annual supply of natural gas could increase to 48 billion cubic metres from around 10 billion cubic metres in 2021. Gazprom is also working on plans for another pipeline – the Soyuz Vostok – that will run from Russia to China via Mongolia and would mean an additional 50 billion cubic metres of gas could be piped to China every year. Russia swerves to avoid default: what’s next? While the West is imposing sanctions on Moscow over its aggression in Ukraine and Europe is seeking to end its reliance on Russian fuel, China – the world’s biggest energy consumer – has opposed sanctions and says its trade with Russia, including cooperation on oil and gas, will continue. Russia exported 16.5 billion cubic metres of gas to China in 2021, including via the pipeline and in liquefied natural gas (LNG). Before the war in Ukraine, Russia exported about 170 billion cubic metres of natural gas to the European market every year. China’s total gas consumption was 372.5 billion cubic metres last year – 167.5 billion cubic metres of which was imported, according to official Chinese data. Gas imports increased by 19.9 per cent in 2021 from a year earlier.