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UZBEKISTAN - European & Asian Roles.

The role of non-US companies in the energy sector is limited mainly to the downstream. In the upstream, one of the main JVs involved Elf Aquitaine of France (now part of TotalFinaElf). It explored for oil in an area near the Cornelius-operated Mingbulak. There have been suggestions by some observers that Cornelius, which is not strong in cash, might eventually bring in the French group or one of the big US firms as a partner for Mingbulak.

Technip of France, along with Marubeni and JGC Corporation of Japan, built the 50,000 b/d condensate refinery at Bukhara, which was inaugurated in August 1997. This brought the number of refineries in Uzbekistan to three and strengthened the country's position as a regional exporter of oil products.

Marubeni of Japan signed a protocol with the Uzbek government in May 1993 to co-operate in the oil and gas sectors. As part of the accord, Marubeni and Chiyoda Corp. of Japan won a letter of intent in June 1993 to submit to Uzbekneftegaz feasibility studies on the construction of two new refineries in Uzbekistan, each to cost about $500m. But these projects are yet to be moved off the ground.

Nissho Iwai of Japan is involved in the development of Kokdumalak in partnership with MW Kellogg and Uzbekneftegaz (see above). A broad co-operation protocol between Nissho Iwai and the Uzbek government had been signed in Tokyo in May 1994, when President Karimov was visiting Japan. Mitsui of Japan has upgraded the 108,000 b/d Ferghana oil refinery, in a $210m project financed through $100m in credits from JEXIM Bank, $90m from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and $20m provided in kind by Uzbekneftegaz.

TH Loy Industries Bhd of Malaysia has developed the Karaktay oilfield under a 50-50 venture with Uzbekneftegaz signed in July 1994. TH Loy is a subsidiary of Probadi Sdn. Bhd., one of the key companies with links to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohammed.

In January 1997, Tashkent approved a $1 bn petrochemicals and NGLs project in the Kashkandarya region of southern Uzbekistan near the Shurtan gas fields. Later a consortium including the Swiss-Swedish conglomerate ABB, Mitsui and Nissho Iwai was formed to invest $600m in the venture, with the Tashkent government to provide $400m. The complex would have the capacity to produce 125,000 t/y of polyethylene, 137,000 t/y of gas liquids, and 37,000 t/y of condensate.

The Russian role in Uzbekistan's energy projects is limited, compared to the presence of Russian oil and gas companies in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. A JV was formed in March 1995 between LUKoil, the biggest Russian integrated oil company, and Uzbekneftegaz to develop nine gas fields with 5.2 TCF of identified reserves in place and to explore for oil and gas in western Uzbekistan. LUKoil has a 40% share in this JV and Uzbekneftegaz has 60%.

Moscow wants Turkmenistan to remain totally dependent on Russia's pipeline system for exports. But Gazprom does not allow Uzbekneftegaz to export gas to Europe through the monopoly's pipelines; as a result, Uzbek gas exports are limited to the CIS market as in the case of Turkmenistan.

Tashkent has backed US proposals for a trans-Caspian "energy corridor", a system for oil and gas pipelines from Central Asia to be built under the Caspian waters to Azerbaijan and from there to run overland to Turkey for exports to the West. The system would link Uzbek oil and gas fields to the Western markets as well.

In May 2000 Romania's RPT Oil Holdings and Uzgeoneftegazdobycha formed a 51/49 JV to develop the Zafar gas/condentate field in the Kashkadarya area and the JV is called Uzromneftegaz. It will initially invest $10m. First production is planned for January 2001, with output rates of 13.5 MCF/day of gas and 6,000 b/d of condensate anticipated.
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Publication:APS Review Gas Market Trends
Date:Sep 25, 2000
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Previous Article:UZBEKISTAN - The Legal System.
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