Wednesday, March 28, 2012 -
Energy-poor Tajikistan on Wednesday said Turkmenistan has agreed to supply it with natural gas so long as Uzbekistan, which lies between the two, permits transit through a pipeline across its territory.
Turkmenistan is ready to pump the gas, but it is up to Tajikistan to negotiate the transit with Uzbek authorities in Tashkent, a Turkmen government source said in the capital Dushanbe, the Tajik news agency Avesta.tj reported.
A single west-east pipeline links Turkmenistan and Tajikistan via southern Uzbekistan. Consequently Tashkent has the final word on the deal.
The chief of Tajik state-run gas firm Tajiktransgas Saidahmad Sharofuddinov said his side is awaiting a response to the request by letter sent to gas authorities in Tashkent on Tuesday.
Turkmen authorities in Ashgabat agreed with visiting Tajik officials last week to supply 200 million cubic meters of gas.
But it is far from certain that the Tashkent government will agree to allow its pipeline to be used for this purpose. Tashkent and Dushanbe continuously engage in tit-for-tat retaliations over scarce water supplies, unregulated boundaries, and ethnic minorities.
Tashkent may especially see this as an opportunity to punish Dushanbe for its ongoing construction of a major hydroelectric dam that the Uzbeks fears will cut vital irrigation water from key cotton crops.
Tajikistan is facing a possible fuel shortage come April 1.
Tajikistan’s regional gas supplier Uzbekistan announced this week it would cut gas to Tajikistan from April 1 owing to an inability to meet both domestic and export demands.
Making matters worse, Russia also announced it will raise fuel tariffs for Tajikistan from April.