• New Myanmar Oil Pipeline

New Myanmar Oil Pipeline (Photo : Getty Images)

The opening of the new Myanmar oil pipeline, which stretches 770 kilometers from Kyaukpyu in western Myanmar to China's border, is expected to reduce China's reliance on oil supplies that pass through U.S.-influenced sea lanes, giving the country greater energy security.

A report by asia.nikkei.com said that the Myanmar pipeline can carry up to 22 million tons of oil a year, which is nearly equal to 6 percent of China's total oil imports last year. The crude oil that will be transported through the pipeline will be processed in refineries in Chongqing and Kunming.

Like Us on Facebook

The pipeline was a joint venture between state-owned China National Petroleum and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, with the Chinese partner having the majority stake.

China National Petroleum said that the 140,000 tons of oil unloaded from Azerbaijan from the first tanker began on the same day that the pipeline opened.

With its economy rising, China is becoming more dependent on oil imports. In 2016, about 65 percent of oil consumed in the country came from imports, an increase of 5 percent from the previous year.

Nearly half of China's oil imports came from the Middle East, which arrived through tankers that pass through the Strait of Malacca and the South China Sea, where U.S. crude oil to other countries passes.

The U.S. has criticized China over its claims in the South China Sea and the country understands well the economic impact in case the U.S. closes off the sea route in the disputed waters.

Under President Xi Jinping, China improved its oil and natural gas pipeline links to Russia and Central Asia. The addition of the Myanmar pipeline is seen to bolster its energy security as well as boost its influence with Russia and other suppliers.

The pipeline has been the result of the warming China-Myanmar relations. China is Myanmar's largest trading partner and a major source investment.

The country is also dependent on China's assistance to keep the peace along the shared border. It can also benefit from China's Belt and road initiative through infrastructure investments and funding from China.