1 Mar 2023 16:17

Uzbekistan continues negotiations with Gazprom, gas deliveries yet to start

TASHKENT. March 1 (Interfax) - Uzbekistan is holding talks with Gazprom on cooperation, though gas imports have yet to commence, the republic's press service told Interfax on Wednesday.

"The working groups continue to study this based on the roadmap approved by the parties. To date, an agreement has not yet been reached. Therefore, natural gas imports from Russia to Uzbekistan will not begin in March as planned," a spokesperson for the Energy Ministry said.

There was a working meeting held on January 24 between the head of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, and Uzbek Energy Minister, Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov. Both sides considered current and future issues of interaction. A roadmap for gas industry cooperation was signed, it was reported.

The objective of the negotiations and the adopted roadmap are the supply of natural gas to the domestic market in the volumes it requires with the full preservation of Uzbekistan's property rights to the existing gas transmission system.

In accordance with the signed roadmap and the working group established by the sides, the technical measures have been taken for gas to transit via the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline through the territory of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

After the working group has technically finished its work, the main conditions for the supply of natural gas will be discussed.

Later, the republic's Energy Ministry had reported that Uzbekistan plans to start importing Russian gas starting in March.

The leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are discussing the possibility of increasing Russian gas supplies to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, taking into account the growth in domestic consumption and export obligations to China. This may require the modernization of the gas transmission infrastructure and even the construction of new gas pipelines. Russia will also require an investment of about 260 billion rubles in the development of gas transit infrastructure on its own territory.

This winter, Uzbekistan faced a large-scale energy crisis during a period of extreme cold. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev criticized officials for negligence in preparing for the autumn-winter period. In winter peak loads there was a shortage of gas in the republic of up to 20 million cubic meters per day, the authorities said.

Because of this, it was decided to initiate the import of gas, electricity, coal and fuel oil due to a shortage of energy resources.

Uzbekistan is capable of producing about 70 billion cubic meters of gas per year, but due to the depletion of reserves, technological losses and the lack of an effective control system, hydrocarbon supplies have decreased significantly in recent years. In 2022, gas production in the republic decreased 4% compared to 2021, to 51.7 billion cubic meters. In 2023, the republic will be able to produce 56.3 billion cubic meters of natural gas, Uzbek officials said.