Question of Central Asia's power grid could become second "water problem": expert


Oct 15, 2009, V.Zhavoronkova



There is a risk that a power grid of the Central Asia established in Soviet times would be another serious problem in the region, which is close in meaning to the water, Russian expert on the Central Asia Arkadiy Dubnov believes.


Last week, executives of Kazakh national company for management of electric networks (KEGOC) told reporters that Uzbekistan has notified the neighboring countries it will leave the parallel work on Central Asia's power systems from Oct.15.


This was followed by the State Joint Stock Company Uzbekenergo's statement on lack of the country's intention to leave the Central Asia's power system interconnection.


Representative of the Uzbek energy company said that the Uzbek side has notified the relevant authorities in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan on its plans to discuss changes of terms on the electricity transit to Kyrgyzstan through Uzbekistan.


"We want to introduce a fee for electricity transit to Kyrgyzstan once considered as overflows and was free," the representative of Uzbekenergo said.

"There is a risk that this problem will be another major 'headache' for the region, besides difficult water problem between "bottom" and "top" neighbors in stream of the water arteries of the Amu Darya and Sir Darya basin," international columnist of the "Vremya Novostey" newspaper Dubnov told Trend News via e-mail.


Water problem is that the two main aquifers in the region Sir Darya and Amu Darya flow through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where they lose much of the water before reaching to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.


Lack of water affects the "bottom" countries.


The expert said that there is an issue whether united energy system of Central Asia created during Soviet time will be able to exist if Tashkent leaves it.


"On the other hand, every cloud has a silver lining, Tashkent's conditions forced Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan to the consolidation and adoption of urgent measures on energy security," Dubnov added.


During his Bishkek visit and talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart Igor Chudinov, Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov was able to agree on the power system interconnection between the two countries to work in parallel in the coming autumn-winter season.


Furthermore, Kazakhstan guaranteed supply of coal and fuel oil to ensure the stable operation of thermal power station in Bishkek, which is one of the major power generating units of the country, Dubnov said.


Kazakhstan also transferred $25 million to Kyrgyzstan as prepayment for future delivery of electricity from the neighboring country.


"Of course, the demarche of Uzbekistan is not so much economic as political in nature," Dubnov said. "Tashkent is apparently eager to demonstrate it is ready to respond adequately "to the Kyrgyz plans to build a cascade of Kambarat hydroelectric power station, which, according to Uzbekistan, threatens its interests."


It is possible to detect similarities between the "energy wars" between the countries of the Central Asia and the recent gas war between Russia and Ukraine, Dubnov believes.

"However, in contrast to "wars "in the European part of Eurasia, the Asian energy wars actually endanger human life," Dubnov said.