Tajikistan to offer Uzbekistan water for energy
Uzbekistan wants Tajikistan to pay higher prices for its gas and higher transit fees for Turkmen electricity crossing its territory. Tajikistan is examining the possibility of reducing water flow downstream into Uzbekistan.
Dushanbe (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tajikistan is threatening to limit the downstream supply of water to Uzbekistan after the two countries failed to agree on a transit rate for Turkmen electricity crossing Uzbek territory into Tajikistan.

By way of explanation Tajik Foreign Minister Khamrokhon Zarifi said yesterday that his country's reservoirs needed to operate at full capacity to compensate for the lack of Turkmen electricity in the national power grid. And this “forced use of large volumes of water in the reservoirs can lead to shortages of water in lower countries” like Uzbekistan but also Turkmenistan, the minister added.

Waters from the Nurek and Qairoqum reservoirs are especially important to farmers in downstream countries.

Uzbekistan is demanding 10 per cent of the .03 per kilowatt paid by Tajikistan to Turkmenistan.

This year the Uzbeks are also charging Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan US$ 240 per 1000 m3, up from 145 dollars last year.

Because of this the Tajiks have accused the Uzbeks of not living up to their obligations under the bilateral agreements on energy and water signed at a Commonwealth of Independent States summit in Bishkek last year.

For the Uzbek there requests are part of their policy of asking all export partners, whether neighbours or not, to pay world prices.

In protracted negotiations, the Tajiks and Kyrgyz failed to secure a more affordable price. The Tajiks thus opted to buy from more distant Turkmenistan which is charging less.

Uzbekistan produces 60 billion m3 of natural gas a year, exporting 17 billion to Russia via the Central Asia-Centre pipeline and a total of four billion to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and also to parts of Kazakhstan.

Unlike its neighbours Tajikistan is energy-poor but controls more than 50 percent of Central Asia's water reserves.

The Syr Darya and Amu Darya Rivers flow through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan before reaching Uzbekistan and both countries operate important hydro-electric plants.

Experts note that instead of bickering and boycotting each other all the states should focus on reaching an agreement on energy and water sharing.