Tajikistan urges compromise on power grid with Uzbekistan




Nov 25, 2009



Tajikistan urged a compromise with Uzbekistan that announced a pullout from the Central Asian unified power grid, which would threaten electricity supplies to neighboring states.


Uzbekistan, a transit nation in electricity supplies between energy-rich Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, said early this month it would pull out from the network as of December 1, criticizing the grid's operations and accusing Tajikistan of bleeding off electricity.


"We must sit down at the negotiation table with our Uzbek colleagues and find a compromise," said Alexei Silantyev, deputy head of Tajikistan's energy holding Barki Tochik. He criticized the withdrawal as political: "Uzbekistan is applying pressure on us as it knows that Tajikistan suffers electricity shortages in the fall and winter season."


Observers in Tajikistan said Uzbekistan frequently cut electricity supplies to pressure Dushanbe over its project to complete the Soviet-designed giant Rogun hydropower plant. Uzbekistan fears Tajiks will begin to take more water from a tributary of the Amu Darya River, which the downstream nation uses to irrigate cotton fields.


Silantyev also said Uzbekistan in effect already pulled out from the network on October 30. Uzbekistan earlier cited poor coordination between the four ex-Soviet nations involved, resulting in accidents affecting its own energy system and triggering instability in the region.


The country also accused Tajikistan of siphoning off electricity from the network above the contract amount, and was reported to have demanded fees for transiting electricity.


Echoing appeals for a compromise, a senior Tajik Foreign Ministry official, Hisrav Goibov, said on Wednesday he was positive "we will find a compromise in the energy sphere."