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Wednesday 2 January 2013

Uzbekistan “Cuts off Gas” to Tajikistan


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(AFP) –Tajikistan says it has been cut off from natural gas shipments by its neighbour and sole energy supplier Uzbekistan. The announcement comes amid traditional end-of-year contract negotiations and continuing tensions over Tajikistan’s plans to build a hydroelectric power station that could choke off Uzbek water supplies.

Uzbekistan’s announcement last Tuesday that it intended to interrupt its Tajik supplies prompted urgent calls for negotiations from Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov.

Uzbekistan last halted gas shipments to Tajikistan for two weeks in April. Uzbekistan has been seeking to funnel its lucrative gas exports to new markets in China and has also curbed its shipments to Russia.

But Tajikistan – poorest of the ex-Soviet nations and still recovering from a 1990s civil war – has few other energy sources and suffers from chronic electricity shortages. It is now moving ahead with plans for the Rogun Dam project that would tap into the mountain country’s abundant water resources. Uzbekistan fears the dam could badly hurt its large cotton industry and become a national security threat.

Analysts estimate Tajikistan’s gas requirements at 1.2 bln m³/year while in 2012, the country only received the tenth of this amount (133 mln m³ exactly) at a price of US $300/1000 m³. This quantity has been enough to operate just one Tajik power plant.

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