China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has received government approval for the design of the Chinese section of a giant pipeline that is due to ship $400 billion worth of Russian natural gas to China, the company said on Thursday. China and Russia signed in May a gas supply deal, securing the world’s top energy user a major source of fuel and opening up a new market for Moscow as it risks losing European customers over the Ukraine crisis. According to initial design, the pipeline will start from Heihe city in the northeastern Heilongjiang province, running through provinces of Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin Municipality, Shandong, Jiangsu to reach Shanghai, CNPC said on its website (news.cnpc.com.cn). Construction of the Chinese section will start in the first half of next year and is slated to complete in 2018, it said. Russia will begin delivering gas to China from 2018, building up gradually to 38 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year. On Sept. 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw the start of construction of the Russian side of the mega China-Russia pipeline. The 4,000 km (2,500 mile) « Power of Siberia » pipeline, being built by state-controlled Gazprom, forms a key part of the Kremlin’s energy strategy, symbolising Russia’s attempts to wean itself off dependence on European markets that account for most of its exports. Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said a further contract on shipment of gas via a second, more westerly route to China could be signed in November.