Experts say the waterway will serve as an alternative to the Strait of Malacca as a route for oil shipping
Two ships each carrying 150 tons of refined oil have arrived in southwest China's Yunnan Province from neighboring Thailand via the Mekong River, marking the trial launch of China's oil shipping program with its Southeast Asian partners, Chinadaily reported.
Experts say the waterway will serve as an alternative to the Strait of Malacca as a route for oil shipping and help to ensure oil supply to Yunnan and southwest China at large.
The Mekong River rises on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam to the South China Sea. It is called Lancang River in China.
In March this year, China signed a landmark agreement with Laos, Myanmar and Thailand on refined oil shipping on the waterway. But the agreement allowed a monthly shipping quota of only 1,200 tons of oil out of safety concerns.
The three Southeast Asian nations, however, later agreed to raise the quota after China had set up an emergency response team to ensure the oil shipping safety on the river, said Qiao Xinmin, chief of the provincial maritime affairs bureau, on Thursday.
China would ship around 70,000 tons of refined oil each year from Thailand alone via the Mekong River thanks to the rise of the quota, Qiao said.