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Clashes In Kazakhstan Over High Fuel Prices Continue

Unrest in oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan continued on Wednesday, even after the government resigned on Tuesday following protests over increased fuel prices.

In a rare protest in tightly-controlled Kazakhstan—a major oil producer and part of the non-OPEC group in the OPEC+ alliance—people took to the streets earlier this week to protest against higher fuel prices.

The government had lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which many Kazakhs use to fuel their LPG-converted vehicles because it’s cheaper than gasoline. The rise in fuel prices also resulted in a surge in consumer goods.

The rise in fuel prices sparked violent protests on Tuesday in which almost 100 police officers were injured, and police used tear gas and stun grenades to dispel hundreds of protesters out of the main square in Kazakhstan’s biggest city Almaty.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on Tuesday that the government had decided to decrease the price of LPG in the western province of Mangistau in order to ensure stability in the country.

Tokayev accepted the resignation of the government on Wednesday and said the lower price of LPG would be restored. The president also declared a state of emergency in Almaty and in the Mangistau province.

Despite the government’s resignation and the state of emergency, protests and violence continued on Wednesday as protesters stormed the mayor’s office.

Government buildings in cities other than Almaty, such as Shymkent and Taraz in the south, were also attacked by protesters.  

During the two days of clashes, cars have been burnt, while attacks on shops, restaurants, and banks have also been reported in Almaty. Authorities in the city have urged residents to stay at home.  

Kazakhstan produces around 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil, and it was called out by the OPEC+ meeting on Tuesday for low compliance with the cuts. For February, the quota for Kazakhstan is 1.589 million bpd, per the group’s decision and production table.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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