Challenges to a Maximally Secure Central Asian Gas System

The Central Asian energy system during the Soviet period was constructed in such a way that the stability and reliability of energy supplies were maintained through a resource-sharing mechanism. Although there is still a demand for fossil energy by the consumer countries, the current geopolitical and economic realities have challenged the effectiveness of this exchange mechanism.

“Challenges Along the Way Towards a Maximally Secure Central Asian Gas System,” Farkhod Aminjonov

Possessing reserves of approximately 20 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, Central Asia is becoming increasingly attractive to energy-thirsty larger powers surrounding the Central Asian region. While energy importers address the need to ensure steady imports of energy and the security of energy supplies, Central Asian gas exporters aim to secure their ability to constantly export energy to obtain a steady income.

The Central Asian countries can roughly be divided into net consumer (Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) and net producer countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). The Central Asian energy system during the Soviet period was constructed in such a way that the stability and reliability of energy supplies were maintained through a resource-sharing mechanism. The resource-sharing mechanism ensured the stability of energy supplies even after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The mechanism was quite simple: the consumer countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan ensured a continuous flow of water and a certain amount of electricity during the summer to the producer countries, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, which channelled fuel and gas to them in return. Although there is still a demand for fossil energy by the consumer countries, the current geopolitical and economic realities have challenged the effectiveness of this exchange mechanism.

Having experienced the negative impacts of excessive dependence on Russian pipelines, Central Asian exporters are now pursuing the diversification of energy export routes to obtain access to various energy markets while avoiding Russian territory. However, pipelines are the only cost- efficient way to transport energy from this land-locked region, and Central Asia is surrounded by larger powers (Russia, China, Europe, and South Asia) that often compete for energy resources. Thus, particular consideration is required when pursuing the diversification of energy export routes. This paper discusses the factors that may threaten and that are already affecting the security of energy supplies for countries within the Central Asian energy system (CAES), such as asymmetrical interdependent energy supply relations among energy actors within the CAES, in which energy actors interact and affect each other’s security; insufficient volume of natural gas production to meet international demand without compromising internal consumption needs and gas exports to neighbouring consumer countries; the absence of effective enforcement mechanisms to coordinate responses to insecurities of energy supplies; and, in a long-term perspective, the underdevelopment of renewable energy sources in the overall energy balance to secure the availability of clean and sufficient energy supplies for both population and economic needs for the foreseeable future.

Link to the article: https://books.google.kz/books?id=r-A3BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA131&lpg=PA131&dq=Challenges+Along+the+Way+Towards+a+Maximally+Secure+Central+Asian+Gas+System&source=bl&ots=L4W1F7sPm-&sig=lBJIalTJnvoDJVHnO_l8IlbgWzs&hl=kk&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwji08mM7sPOAhXE2SwKHZWUAHoQ6AEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=Challenges%20Along%20the%20Way%20Towards%20a%20Maximally%20Secure%20Central%20Asian%20Gas%20System&f=false

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