Uzbekistan moves to calm tensions with Tajikistan
DUSHANBE - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS photoUzbekistan on Monday said it had resumed supplies of gas to energy-starved Tajikistan after a two week cut in deliveries hightened simmering tensions between the two ex-Soviet neighbours.
Analysts had warned that Tajikistan -- which has few energy resources of its own and imports almost all its gas from Uzbekistan -- risked seeing factories shut down if the taps were not turned back on.
Tensions have long been rumbling over Tajikistan's controversial plan to build a hydro-electric power plant which Dushanbe says is the only way to relieve chronic energy shortages, but which Tashkent says will rob Uzbek farmers of water.
Uzbekistan halted gas supplies on April 1, citing increased demand from Russia and China.
State energy company Uzbekneftegaz announced Monday that a new contract had been signed with Tajikistan's Tajiktransgaz on April 11.
"Based on the contract, supplies of gas to Tajikistan resumed as of midnight April 16 (Monday)," Uzbekneftgaz said in a statement in Tashkent.
Tajik officials in Dushanbe told AFP a contract had been concluded, but said Uzbek gas supplies had not yet arrived in the country.
Tajikistan, which has a population of 7.5 million people, is the poorest country in ex-Soviet Central Asia and purchases 95 percent of its natural gas from Uzbekistan.
The cut raised concern about the operations of Tajikistan's main industrial factories, the Tajik Aluminium Company and the Dushanbe cement plant which supplies materials to the Rogun dam project.
The Rogun dam -- which is being constructed across the Vakhsh river 110 kilometres (70 miles) southwest of Dushanbe -- was first conceived under the USSR. It stalled in the 1990s, but has now been revived.