The Pivot of Gas Lines. For the first time, Russian gas flows The Pivot of Gas Lines. For the first time, Russian gas flows
A Special Gift
On his 71st birthday, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin celebrated on October 7 at his suburban residence, Novo-Ogaryovo, accompanied by the presidents of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. He greeted them in the new domestic off-roader, the Aurus Komendant, even offering a brief tour around the residence grounds.
The day before, Mirziyoyev concluded his official visit to Moscow, during which a series of significant cooperation agreements were signed, particularly in the energy sector. Notably, these included an Agreement between the government of the Russian Federation and the government of the Republic of Uzbekistan on expanding cooperation in oil supply and another Agreement pertaining to the rail transport of oil products.
Another intergovernmental agreement – concerning the transit of Russian gas to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan – was signed half a year prior. However, the commencement of its practical implementation was timed to coincide with Putin's birthday.
The ceremony was conducted via a video link between Gazprom's central office in St. Petersburg and compressor stations in both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Following their outdoor excursion, the presidents entered a hall in the residence where two large screens had been set up. Putin began his address by saying, "I'd like to warmly welcome all participants of today's ceremony marking the start of Russian gas deliveries to Uzbekistan via Kazakhstan and to Kazakhstan itself. We are discussing a major trilateral energy project, which utilizes the Central Asia-Center gas pipeline, constructed back in the 1960s. At the time, it was essentially the first transcontinental Eurasian gas route through which Uzbekistan supplied gas – about 80 billion cubic meters annually – to eight Soviet republics. Now, this pipeline will operate in reverse mode, reliably supporting the rapidly growing economies of Uzbekistan and, to some extent, Kazakhstan. After all, Kazakhstan is developing at a fast pace and requires additional energy resources."
Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev highlighted the significant role of the project in fortifying regional stability and energy security in Central Asia. He noted, "Over 20,000 kilometers of main gas pipelines pass through Kazakhstan with an annual capacity of up to 255 billion cubic meters. Kazakhstan is keen on fully leveraging its transit potential and is prepared to further increase the volume of Russian gas transportation."
The statements made by the presidents via video link were attentively listened to by Gazprom's leader, Alexey Miller, in St. Petersburg, Uzbekistan's Energy Minister, Zhurabek Mirzamakhmudov, at a gas metering station in Karakalpakstan, and Kazakhstan's Energy Minister, Almasadam Satkaliyev, at the Makat compressor station in the Atyrau region. Following the officials' reports, the presidents of the three countries gave the go-ahead to the Alexandrov Gai compressor station on the Russian-Kazakh border. The response from the station was prompt, "Gas is supplied. The pipeline pressure matches the set parameters, and all systems are operating normally."
Thus, the project to redirect Russian gas flows to Central Asia was launched. And although the idea had been brewing for some time, the immediate catalyst became the unusual January freezes in Tashkent, during which the city was left virtually frozen without gas for several days. The residents, in the absence of gas, resorted to cooking food over open fires.