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Uzbekistan's Natural Gas Crunch Squeezes State Coffers

Uzbekistan is grappling with a natural gas production crunch, putting pressure on state coffers.

In February, Tashkent sharply reduced gas supplies to China, according to a March 28 report published by the website. The drop in export volume resulted in a sharp downturn in earnings, from $38.77 million in January to $18.6 million in February, according to data published by China's General Customs Administration. The February 2024 figure was still better than earnings during the same month the previous year, during which no gas export earnings were recorded.

The Chinese export totals differed significantly from the amounts published by Uzbekistan's States Statistical Agency, which showed gas export earnings of $21 million in January and $5.7 million in February. Uzbek officials attributed the discrepancy in earnings data to Beijing's tendency to include revenue from the transit of Turkmen gas via Uzbekistan in the totals, reported. But that explanation, the outlet added, still doesn't square the numbers.

Uzbekistan has traditionally relied on gas exports to generate a significant chunk of revenue for the state. But for the first time in its post-Soviet history, the country became a net importer of gas in 2023. Last fall, Uzbek officials signed a two-year deal to import up to 9 million cubic meters of Russian gas per day. The import-export deficit totaled about $165 million in 2023.


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