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China-Myanmar pipelines to open in June: Xinhua

Oil and natural gas pipelines linking China and Myanmar -- Beijing's "new strategic channels" -- are expected to be finished by the end of May and could be operating soon after, state media reported Monday.

Gao Jianguo, the head of the project under the China National Petroleum Corporation, told the official Xinhua news agency that the 1,100-kilometre-long pipelines should be completed by May 30 and could become operational in early June, "barring insurmountable barriers".

The pipelines run from the western Myanmar port of Kyaukpyu and enter China in Yunnan province, Xinhua said, describing them as "China's new strategic energy channels".

The military junta that ruled Myanmar for decades had a close relationship with China, but since taking power in March 2011 the country's new government under Thein Sein has introduced a welter of reforms and see ties with the West improve.

The oil pipeline will allow crude to be shipped to China from the Middle East via the Indian Ocean, bypassing what Xinhua described as the "risk-prone Strait of Malacca".

The oil pipeline is designed to transport 22 million tonnes annually while the gas pipeline has a design capacity of 12 billion cubic metres a year, the report said.

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