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UZBEKISTAN - The National Priorities

The first priority for the Tashkent government is self-sufficiency in all aspects of energy. This is about to be achieved, as the country's production of oil, gas and coal exceeds its local needs. The country still imports some oil products which its refineries cannot produce as yet. When its refining capacity has been upgraded and expanded, Uzbekistan will stop importing oil products.

Uzbekistan also imports gas from Turkmenistan's Amu Darya basin. But the volume began to decline in early 1997, after the completion of a 370-km internal pipeline. This links the Gazli gas field, near Bukhara in the central region, to the gas-consuming areas of Khorezm and Karakalpak. The pipeline from Turkmenistan is part of the old Soviet system, built many years ago to make all parts of the USSR inter-dependent under central control.

Uzbek gas imports from Turkmenistan in 1997 were limited to about 2 BCM, compared with 3.5 BCM per annum in the previous years. Imports this year are expected to be less than 1 BCM.

The second priority is to diversify the country's economic base. Instead of concentrating on exports of crude oil and natural gas, the country is trying to develop its production capacity for petroleum products and petrochemicals that can be sold to nearby markets as well as to the West.

ABB Lummus Global, Japan's Mitsui, Nissho Iwai and Toyo Engineering, and Italy's ABB Soimi have formed a consortium to build a $633 million complex at Shurtan for gas processing and production of petrochemicals. The gas feedstocks will come from the nearby Shurtan group of fields (see Gas Market Trends). The project should be commissioned by 2000 and completed by 2002.

The partners in the consortium are involved in several other projects, including modernisation of two of the country's three refineries. This year, Mitsui began work on a $76 million project to modernise the Fergana refinery. Technip of France and Japan's Marubeni and JGC Corp. completed construction of the new 50,000 b/d Bukhara refinery in June 1997.
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Publication:APS Review Oil Market Trends
Date:Oct 5, 1998
Words:335
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