Uzbekistan: Chief Gasman Explains Winter Shortages
Exports are not to blame for annual gas shortages in Uzbekistan, a senior official says.
Shokir Fayzullayev, chairman of state-run Uzbekneftegaz, says Uzbekistan exports only 20 percent of the natural gas it produces, blaming faulty and aging infrastructure, much of it dating from Soviet times, for increasing domestic shortages. Fayzullayev was speaking at a May 13 press conference ahead of the 17th Oil and Gas Uzbekistan International Exhibition and Conference in Tashkent on May 14-16.
"Despite [gas] resources and quite extensive networks, we have had problems with supplying gas to end consumers, especially in winter," Uzdaily.uz quoted Fayzullayev as saying.
Fayzullayev says gas shortages could end this year with planned work to upgrade networks and better coordination between gas distributors. "The majority of the existing problems will be solved this year,” he said.
But he also blamed customers for the shortages: "We all know there are different consumers: There are honest consumers who make timely payments and dishonest consumers who do not pay on time.”
Uzbekistan produces over 60 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas annually, according to official (and thus not always reliable) data cited by Uzdaily.uz. Most news reports and analysts agree on one thing: Gas output stood virtually unchanged last year, while exports – to Russia and China, especially – increased and are scheduled to keep increasing.
Without ramping up production, how is that possible? Despite Fayzullayev's explanation, many customers – the good ones and the bad ones – are blaming these rising exports for their shortages.