(AsiaNews / Agencies) - To emerge from the economic crisis and escape the
control of Moscow, Uzbekistan has begun exporting natural gas to China. Signed
in August, the agreement was only revealed on September 12 during a visit to
Tashkent by Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Hui Liagyu. Relations
between the two countries were born in June 2010 with the signing of a contract
which provided for the intermediate export of 10 billion cubic meters of gas a
the new agreement Uzbekistan will export from 2 to 5 billion cubic meters of
fuel in 2012, increasing to 10 billion in 2013 and stabilizing at about 25
billion in 2016.
The former Soviet republic is the largest producer and consumer of natural gas in Central Asia, but its exports are very limited. Of 63 billion cubic meters of material extracted in 2011, the companies exported only 12 billion. To date, the main customer is Russia, followed by Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Exports will be piped to Beijing through the Central Asia and China pipeline, which starts from Turkmenistan and reaches the Chinese border through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. It has an annual capacity of 30 billion cubic meters, but the Chinese authorities plan to increase the amount up to 55 billion cubic meters by 2015.
The start of gas exports to China will allow Uzbekistan to diversify exports in the energy sector and to acquire new customers and counter the economic crisis that afflicts the country. The agreement with Beijing allows the ex-Soviet republic to break away from the orbit of Moscow, which controls its former satellite countries by imposing prices for the purchase of raw materials and the exclusive rights for export. In 2009 Russia contributed to the severe economic crisis of Turkmenistan reducing the purchase of gas.
The advantages for Beijing are countless. By accessing the Chinese pipeline, Tashkent will force other Asian republics to make the same choice, introducing a high level of competition in the sector, with huge savings for China. In recent years the Asian giant has become one of the main partners in the energy sector in Central Asia because of its appetite for energy and raw materials to maintain economic growth. To counter the hegemony of Moscow, Beijing has contributed to the construction of a huge pipeline that will connect all the countries of the region, allowing exports throughout Asia.