• 9 hours Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 10 hours Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 10 hours China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 11 hours UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 12 hours Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 12 hours VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 13 hours Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 14 hours Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 15 hours OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 1 day U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 1 day Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 1 day Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 2 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 2 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 2 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 4 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 4 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 4 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 5 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 5 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 5 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 5 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 5 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 5 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 5 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 5 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 5 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 6 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 6 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 6 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 6 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 6 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 6 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 6 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
  • 7 days Chinese Teapots Create $5B JV To Compete With State Firms
  • 7 days Oil M&A Deals Set To Rise
  • 7 days South Sudan Tightens Oil Industry Security
  • 7 days Over 1 Million Bpd Remain Offline In Gulf Of Mexico
  • 7 days Turkmenistan To Spend $93-Billion On Oil And Gas Sector
  • 7 days Indian Hydrocarbon Projects Get $300 Billion Boost Over 10 Years
Alt Text

Oil Prices Spike On Middle East Tensions

Oil prices jumped upwards on…

Alt Text

How Vulnerable Is The Electrical Grid?

Hurricane Maria knocked out the…

Alt Text

This Key Data Points At Strong U.S. Oil Demand

U.S. Gasoline prices haven’t risen…



EurasiaNet.org provides information and analysis about political, economic, environmental and social developments in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in…

More Info

The Future Of Central Asia’s Unified Power Grid


Brutal winter weather in the late 2000s delivered a knockout blow to Central Asia’s unified power grid. Now, almost a decade later, tentative efforts are underway to promote a comeback of the network.

Tajikistan is the Central Asian state currently most interested in reviving the grid. Back in 2007, it was the worst prepared state in the region to handle the frigid winter. Unable to generate sufficient electricity for heating, lots of Tajiks were forced to shiver through the season in the dark.

Two years later, when another harsh winter hit, authorities in Dushanbe took action, recalled energy expert Kamoliddin Sirozhidinov. Without seeking permission, Tajikistan drew more than its allocated share from Central Asia’s then-unified power system — a decades-old electricity grid, legacy of Communist central planning, linking more than 80 power stations across the region’s former Soviet republics.

“This brought about a power system failure, as a result of which Tajikistan and the Surkhandarya region [in southern] Uzbekistan completely lost electricity. And this happened early in the morning,” Sirozhidinov said. “As a result of that, these countries withdrew from the system that same year and built power lines to create connections within their own territory.”

In addition to pulling out of the system, Uzbekistan stopped delivering electricity to Tajikistan altogether. It also announced that it would hike transit fees for power to Tajikistan.

This episode spelled the beginning of the end for a teetering arrangement that had been in place since the 1970s, under which republics rich in hydropower resources agreed to supply neighbors at periods of high production and then later receive electricity in return from republics whose power generation relied primarily on fossil fuels, such as coal and gas.

The reasons for why the unified energy system collapsed are, in fact, even more complicated and knotty than this potted history suggests. But at the heart of the problem is a legacy of distrust among regional leaders, and an aspiration by many of the countries to be fully self-reliant.

Independence has come at a cost, however. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, for instance, are at times forced to release such large amounts of water in winter to generate electricity that irrigation water runs short in the spring and summer, thereby crimping the potential of the agricultural sector.

This kind of chain reaction has left the biggest impact on Tajikistan. Because Uzbekistan has declined to sell Tajikistan gas and electricity, power shortages are chronic in the winter. In the regions, for lack of any other source of heating, villagers chop down trees for their wood-burning stoves. Related: Will Central Banks Derail The Shale Boom?

According to official data, since the start of the 1990s, some 700,000 hectares of forest have been felled in Tajikistan. By way of context, where forests covered around one-fifth of the country’s territory at the time of independence, that has now dropped to just 3 percent. Landslides, mudslides, soil erosion and flooding are among the most visible and recurrent consequences.

Taking these and other correlated problems into account, organizations like the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank have for many years lobbied for governments to take energy infrastructure integration more seriously.

Finally, in mid-May this year, representatives from the state energy companies of Central Asia met in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, to discuss reviving the unified energy grid.

In an official statement, the head of Barki Tojik, Tajikistan’s state electricity company, Mirzo Ismoilzoda, said that if all the necessary paperwork is done, the grid could resume functioning within a couple of years. It was a speculative and optimistic projection, but the fact the conversation is even taking place is meaningful.

Tajikistan is particularly eager to see this happen, since it sees export of summer electricity as a potentially valuable source of funds. In 2016, Barki Tojik exported 1.3 billion kilowatt hours, almost all of it to Afghanistan.

Reviving the regional energy grid would only solve some of the problems, said Sirozhidinov. “In some cities and districts of the country, we have aging equipment that was installed in the 1960s,” he said. “If we give them [Tajik citizens] electricity without interruption, they will stop using their [wood] stoves. And if all families behave like that then the transformers won’t be able to support the demand.”

In Soviet times, Tajikistan had steady supplies of gas and coal, which meant that households did not pin all their requirements on electricity.

To avoid a meltdown of the electricity distribution system, upgrades are needed, Sirozhidinov said. The government must also create a centralized power dispatching node that will keep tabs on how much electricity is being used and where, he said. Related: Only $60 Oil Can Save The Aramco IPO

Andrei Zakhvatov, an expert on electricity systems in Central Asia, said that Tajikistan is not alone in needing the resurrection of the regional grid.

Growing populations need more jobs, and development of industry is occurring across all Central Asia. If Tajikistan is able to export cheap electricity to Uzbekistan in summer, then what sense does it makes for Uzbekistan to refuse? You could say the same for cooperation between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan,” Zakhvatov said.

It needs saying that if any of this has been made possible, it is likely the result of the markedly conciliatory rhetoric coming from Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who has discarded the hostile neighborhood policy pursued by his predecessor, the late Islam Karimov. Uzbekistan’s disavowal of its role as spoiler has reached such a point that when Mirziyoyev visited Turkmenistan in March, he brought up the idea of Ashgabat supplying electricity to Tajikistan through his own country’s grid. Turkmenistan, which ditched the Central Asian grid as early as 2003, and Tajikistan have repeatedly talked up the idea of electricity deals, but Karimov’s lack of cooperation routinely stymied progress.

For the last 10 months, relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have noticeably warmed,” said Zakhvatov. “As far as we can tell, the leadership of the two countries have come to understand that politics have long undermined the economy, and this situation needs to be fixed. And so there is hope that there will be cooperation in the energy sector, and that it is not only relations in this sector that will improve.

By Eurasianet.org

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News