Uzbekistan halts gas exports to save supplies for home market
Uzbekistan has completely halted gas exports in cover rising domestic consumption, the head of state gas grid operator Uztransgaz said on December 7.
The decision was prompted by a cold snap in Uzbekistan, which has driven up demand for gas-fuelled heating.
"Because our main task is now meeting the needs of the population, all gas exports, including to China, have been 100% suspended, and this volume has been directed to the population," Uztransgaz chairman Bekhzot Narmatov told local television channel Sevimli.
Uzbekistan typically exports gas to both China and Russia. But it has been scaling back supplies abroad in recent years to prioritise domestic demand. This has come to the detriment of Russia's Lukoil, which operates the country's two largest gas projects – South-West Gissar and Kandym-Khauzak-Shady. The company earns more by selling the gas to China than supplying it domestically.
While Uzbek gas production rose by almost 8% last year, reaching 53.6bn m3, exports came to only 5.7bn m3, and a further 3.3bn m3 was imported.
Tashkent's long-term plan is to reduce exports to zero and extract greater value from its gas reserves by developing petrochemical and other downstream projects. It is also looking to renovate its gas-fired power plants and modernise its gas grid, to increase efficiency.