Headlines from the Caspian: January 10, 2022
Author:Caspian Policy Center
Jan 12, 2022
Oil Exports from Kazakhstan Continue to Be Delivered to Azerbaijan Despite Unrest
Despite the protests that have erupted across Kazakhstan, the deputy head of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) confirmed that oil deliveries from Kazakhstan have not ceased via Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC). The BTC transported about 100,000 tons of oil from Kazakhstan annually and is a critical lifeline for delivering oil from the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan, Turkey and beyond to European markets.
Uzbekistan Halts Gas Exports to Ensure Domestic Consumption Supplies are Sufficient
Uzbekistan completely halted natural gas exports to its partner countries to ensure that its domestic consumption supplies were sufficient throughout the winter months. Domestic gas production in Uzbekistan dropped by about 10 billion cubic meters from 2019 to 2020. Meanwhile, domestic consumption remained about the same. The largest destination for Uzbek natural gas exports is China. Nevertheless, the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Gazprom, General Director of Gazprom Export Elena Burmistrova stated that Uzbekistan needs to secure its own domestic natural gas supply as consumption in the country continues to rise.
Source: UZ Daily
Uzbekistan Will Increase Electricity Generation and Modernize Power Transmission Lines
Uzbekistan will increase its electricity generation by 40 billion kWh to 110 billion kWh annually by 2026, as outlined in the draft roadmap for the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan for 2022-2026. Moreover, the share of renewable energy generation is expected to reach 25 percent. To attain its benchmarks, the Uzbek government plans to modernize roughly 9,000 miles of power transmission lines and 4,000 transformer substations in 2022.
Kyrgyz Businesses Worry About Unrest in Kazakhstan
Days of unrest have gripped Kazakhstan after protesters across the country were met with Russian-backed CSTO forces in the streets. South of the border in Kyrgyzstan, businesses worry that uncertainty in their northern neighbor could harm their profits. While Kyrgyz businesses are not generally too concerned about the possibility of border closures, vital staple items imported from Kazakhstan and Russia, such as meat, grain, sugar, and sunflower oil could increase in price and decrease the availability of these goods in Kyrgyzstan.
Centerra Gold Confirms it is Speaking with the Kyrgyz Government
Centerra Gold, the Canadian company operating Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, confirmed that it is speaking with the Kyrgyz government regarding an out-of-court settlement started by a dispute between the two parties. According to a statement released by Centerra on January 3, the company is aiming to receive about 26.1 percent of its common stock in the state-owned company Kyrgyzaltyn. In addition, it wants Kyrgyzstan to assume responsibility for Centerra’s two Kyrgyz subsidiaries. Kyrgyzstan took control of its largest mine last May after citing environmental and security concerns, prompting Centerra to begin arbitration proceedings against the country.
Azerbaijan Further Links Liberated Territories to Mainland with the Horadiz-Aghband Railway
Azerbaijan took further steps to link its liberated territories to its mainland by commissioning the Horadiz-Aghband Railway. The 68-mile-long railway traverses Zangilan, Jabrayil, and Fuzuli districts, all of which were retaken by Azerbaijan following the 2020 second Karabakh War against Armenia. The newly commissioned 14.2-mile-long leg of the railway is slated to improve the economic prospects of those residing in these districts.
Turkmenistan President Considers Extinguishing Never-Ending Gas Flare Attraction
Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered that the everlasting flaming natural gas pit – dubbed the Gates of Hell – should be distinguished after evaluations revealed environmental and public health concerns for nearby residents. The study indicated that 350 residents of a close by village were at risk of being negatively impacted by the ongoing flames.
Security and Politics
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Meet in Geneva
Talks between the United States and Russia about the ongoing situation in Ukraine commenced in Switzerland on January 10. Both sides described the talks as professional and useful, but both sides have emphasized that no progress has been made. No Ukrainian representatives were at the meeting.
Source: The Guardian
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Georgian Foreign Minister Hold Phone Talk
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani, held a phone conversation on January 5th ahead of a series of high-profile meetings scheduled for later this month. Discussions focused on regional security and Russian aggression against Georgia and Ukraine. Sherman and Zalkaliani affirmed their mutual commitment to pursuing peace and stability in the region.
Azerbaijan Neutralizes Armenian Landmines in Liberated Lands
Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has been undertaking mine clearance operations since November 2020. According to Azerbaijani officials, minefields remain one of the primary barriers to rehabilitation and humanitarian operations in the liberated territory. As of December 30, 2021, a total of 10,472 anti-personnel and almost 5,000 anti-tank mines have been discovered. Under present conditions, ANAMA authorities estimate that neutralizing explosive ammunition and missiles in conflict zones might take around 5-6 years.
Source: Caspian News
Collective Security Treaty Organization Deploys Peacekeepers in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev resorted to the CSTO for assistance in combating the threat posed by “terrorist gangs trained outside the country.” He stated that the CSTO troops are there for a limited period to stabilize and normalize the situation in the country. As a result, military units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan were sent to Kazakhstan. Following the deployment, on January 7, Tokayev announced that the government reclaimed control over all vital infrastructure facilities. On January 10, a CSTO meeting was convened at the request of Kazakhstan to discuss the ongoing operations in the country.
Source: Caspian News
Ex-Security Services Chief Arrested in Kazakhstan
Former security chief, Karim Masimov, has been arrested on charges of treason following his dismissal from the National Security Committee on January 5. Masimov’s dismissal is part of a broader series of changes among the elite within the Kazakhstani government following last week’s unrest. News of his arrest closely follows claims by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev that attackers operated under a clearly defined strategy and were reporting to a central command point.
(Sources: Azernews, Caspian News, Civil.ge, Eurasianet, RFE/RL, and UzDaily).