Rows over gad supplies spread in Central Asia

TASHKENT/BISHKEK/DEC. 12 2022 (The Bulletin) — Kyrgyzstan complained that Uzbekistan had pinched its gas after the Uzbek government signed a deal with Turkmenistan for emergency supplies.

A power shortage in Central Asia, magnified by outdated infrastructure and corruption, is reverberating around the region, frustrating local people who are having to cope with blackouts and broken heating.

This frustration has alarmed officials who have looked to shift blame. Uzbek police arrested a senior director at a Tashkent power production company for corruption and in north Kazakhstan an executive at a heating company whose operations have partly broken was found dead in an apparent suicide.

Analysts have said that Central Asian governments haven’t invest in their power production and delivery systems, which are still largely based on a Soviet design. Major blackouts in January threatened to topple the system and highlighted the need for modernisation.

Media reported that Uzbekistan would boost imports by 35% after signing several deals, including with Turkmenistan, to meet demand.

Kyrgyzstan complained that the deal robbed it of gas that it thought it had secured.

Talaibek Baigaziev, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s national energy company, said that Uzbekistan had “received electricity but it now doesn’t reach us”. 

Both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have also stopped exports to China, irritating their Chinese customers.

In November, officials from the Uzbek power producing company said that shortages threatened to knock out not only the Uzbek power system but also the entire connected Central Asian network.


— This story was published in issue 531 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on Dec. 19 2022

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2022

« Back to newsdesk