Kazakhstan will be ready to provide infrastructure for the transit of Russian gas to Uzbekistan for the “autumn-winter 2024” once Tashkent and Moscow conclude negotiations over volume and price, Kazakhstan’s Energy Minister Almasadam Satkaliyev said this week. It’s the latest bit of news tied to the prospect of Russia exporting gas to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Despite being both producers and exporters of natural gas themselves, in recent winters Tashkent and Astana have run into energy crunches, squeezed between rising domestic demands and existing contracts with China, the gap exacerbated by aged infrastructure in some cases.
Although Kazakh and Uzbek officials chaffed at talk of a “gas union” with Russia in late 2022, the idea of importing gas from Russia itself had merit. In January, Gazprom signed “roadmaps” for cooperation with both the Kazakh and Uzbek governments. Details were thin about the roadmaps, but Uzbekistan said it would begin importing Russian gas on March 1.
In February, Uzbek Energy Minister Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov and his Kazakh counterpart, Bolat Akchulakov (who in April was appointed a presidential adviser) met with Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller in St. Petersburg and discussed “possibilities” of a trilateral gas arrangement.
Gazeta.uz reported that during the February meeting officials were considering routing gas through the Central Asia-Center (CAC) pipeline (which runs from Turkmenistan through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to Russia) and the Bukhara-Ural pipeline, which runs from Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan to Russia.
A source told the Uzbek media outlet that in order to supply natural gas from Russia to the Central Asian states via the CAC pipeline, significant investments and new compressor stations would be necessary to allow for the reversal of the flow. And in late February, Kazakhstan announced that it planned to start work on a third line for the Bukhara-Ural pipeline, at an estimated cost of $95.6 million.
Source: THE DIPLOMAT