Gazprom Eyes Central Asia Amid European Sanctions

Facing a shortfall in European gas exports due to Western sanctions, Gazprom anticipates it will sell 34 billion cubic meters of unexported gas to Central Asia, according to recent reports.

“In light of the ongoing changes in the global energy market, Gazprom remains committed to ensuring a reliable gas supply to Russian consumers and bolstering export capabilities. A key focus for the company in this regard has been fostering collaboration with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan,” Gazprom stated in a press release.

The company confirmed a drop in gas exports to Europe of 34 billion cubic meters in the first eleven months of 2023, marking levels not seen since 1996. An earlier announcement by the Ministry of Energy of Uzbekistan unveiled a 15-year gas purchase agreement with Gazprom, extending the deal to include Kazakhstan, which involves a new pipeline construction.

In October, reports indicated the commencement of Russian gas deliveries to Uzbekistan through Kazakhstan. However, the specifics of this arrangement have not been disclosed to date.

Alexey Miller, Gazprom’s chief, outlined plans to expand the Central Asia gas pipeline system in November, highlighting memoranda signed with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and expressing optimism that the project will rejuvenate this pipeline network.

During the Soviet era, gas from the region was transported to Russia via the Central Asia–Center gas pipeline. After the USSR’s dissolution, the pipeline ceased operations and deteriorated, requiring substantial refurbishment to enable gas supplies from Russia to Central Asia. Miller noted the completion of the initial repair stage of the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline, facilitating gas delivery to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan.

Earlier this year, Tashkent inked a two-year gas supply contract with Gazprom amounting to approximately 2.8 billion cubic meters annually. Despite these developments, details regarding the pricing of the purchased gas remain undisclosed. Which according to Uzbekistan’s Energy Minister, Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov, is “in alignment with national interests and market dynamics.”