Uzbekistan cuts gas by 50% to Tajikistan

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 11 -- Uzbekistan’s state-owned Uzbektransgaz has reduced its supplies of natural gas to neighboring Tajikistan by 50% due to a dispute over payment.

Shavkat Shoimov, deputy head of Tajikstan’s state-owned Tajiktransgaz said Uzbektransgaz demanded prepayment for gas, but his country does not “have such means and there are no free resources.”

Shoimov said, “We do not have funds to make prepayments now. Funds we have are enough for only 2 or 3-day gas shipments,” he said.

"This is the reason for gas supply cuts from 480,000 cu m to 240,000 cu m/day," said Shoiumov, who added that his firm in turn has had to impose cuts on to Tajik factories.

According to analyst IHS Global Insight, Uzbekistan regularly halts or sharply reduces gas exports to Tajikistan, usually to enforce payment of debts accumulated for supplies already received.

“In an effort to end this cycle of debt and supply cut-offs, Uzbekistan last year began requiring its main gas debtor countries—Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—to make prepayments for gas supplies,” the analyst said.

Last month, Tajiktransgaz and Uzbektransgaz signed an agreement on Uzbek gas shipments to Tajikistan in 2010. Under the agreement, Tajikistan is due to import 250 million cu m of gas from Uzbekistan next year.

At the time, Tjiktransgaz head Saidmamat Sharofiddinov said the gas price would vary quarterly depending on the on world market trends and that “The gas price for the first quarter of 2010 will become known only in early January.”

Sharofiddinov also said that Tajikistan would buy Uzbek gas on a take-or-pay agreement and that under the contract “The conditions remain the same—we will make prepayments every 10 days.”

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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