Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kyrgyzstan to Supply Power to Tajikistan


Киргизистон ба Точикистон барк хохад дод

Kyrgyzstan has agreed to supply Tajikistan with 11 million kw/h of electricity from February 2008, but has obliged Tajikistan to pay it back by exporting 55 million kw/h in coming April and May. February coincides with the time when, according to Tajik Premier Aqil Aqilov, the Nurek Dam will cease producing power for domestic consumption. The question asked by observers is whether Tajikistan will be in shape to avoid a bigger crisis in future.

Dushanbe is still fogged in, but the weather is not as harsh as few days back. However, it doesn’t change the country’s desperate need for more reliable energy resources. Tajik Prime-Minister alarmed the country by revealing a horrifying figure that the Nurek (Narak) Dam can partially provide Tajikistan with power just for few days.

Therefore, Tajik officials have decided to take the plunge and go around in the search of a life-saver. As many times before, Dushanbe is trying to throw itself upon neighbours’ mercy.

The closest neighbour, namely Uzbekistan, does not seem willing to heed Tajikistan’s winter misery. It has breached a bilateral agreement by cutting its energy supply to Tajikistan due to severe weather conditions in Uzbekistan itself. But Dushanbe keeps trying to see light at the end of the tunnel and decided to ask an equally needy neighbour as Kyrgyzstan and the energy-rich Turkmenistan for help.

As Tajik President’s website informs, Emomali Rahmon’s Monday phone conversation with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow bore some fruit. Berdimuhamedow assured Rahmon that ‘he would give an instruction [to the bodies concerned] to increase amounts of electricity exported by Turkmenistan within the existing potential.’ Ashgabat has been providing Tajikistan with 3 million kw/h of electricity routinely so far and its amicable relationship with Dushanbe gives a hope that Turkmen president’s vow could be translated into action.

However, extending a beggar bowl towards Bishkek was a big ask indeed. CA News website reported on 21 January (just four days before Tajik Premier’s request) that electricity consumption is growing in Kyrgyzstan too, since this winter was not harsh with Tajikistan only. Aqil Aqilov described the situation in his country as the worst in the entire region. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov’s response in Moscow was precarious.

Kyrgyz officials floundered around, trying to think of the right word to explain their own difficult situation. News agencies reported some Kyrgyz MPs’ views that could not see a way to meet Tajikistan’s request. But Dushanbe did not give up on its chance to persuade Kyrgyzstan on its more vital need for energy. Barq-i Tajik (the state energy company) sent its delegates to Bishkek on Friday (25 Jan) to negotiate a deal with their Kygyz counterparts. As a result, Kyrgyzstan agreed to supply northern districts of Tajikistan next month (11 m kw/h) and get a five-fold volume of electricity back from Tajikistan in coming spring (55 m kw/h). Kyrgyzstan plans to fill in its Toktogul reservoir while using imported Tajik power in spring, said Igor Chudinov in Bishkek. One might say the deal will work well for Bishkek.

The deal leaves Tajikistan satisfied for a couple of months too and maybe few more houses will be lit and warm. But Rahmon’s government might end up getting stuck in another, perhaps tighter, energy dead end in the long run, if it chooses to solve the current crisis by paying back with five-fold interest to its neighbours’ assistance. There is a little hope that Rahmon’s energy ambitions will bear fruit till next winter.

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