2 Dec 2010 16:47

Uzbekistan may stop gas supply to Tajikistan

DUSHANBE. Dec 2 (Interfax) - The UzTransGaz state company may soon stop supplying natural gas to Tajikistan because of unpaid debts, a source at state-owned TajikTransGaz told Interfax on Wednesday.

Uzbekistan is the only supplier of natural gas to Tajikistan, where local gas production is low.

"The debt for Uzbek gas stands at $1.6 million and grows day after day due to debts of small consumers," he said.

Main gas consumers in Tajikistan, the Talco aluminum company and the TajikCement plant, pay on time or even make advance payments.

"UzTransGaz sent us an official notification, which said that the gas delivery might be halted within the first ten days of December if we did not start paying debts," the source said. A similar situation occurred at the end of 2008, but TajikTransGaz took a loan from the largest Tajik commercial bank, Orienbank, owned by the son-in-law of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.

"We are still repaying that loan and are unable to make new borrowings on the same terms because Orienbank loan rates are rather high," he said.

The company is holding negotiations with the World Bank on a preferential loan of $5 million.

Tajikistan receives 600,000 cubic meters of gas from Uzbekistan every day, with 520,000 cubic meters going to Talco and TajikCement.