Kyrgyzstan's Energy Insecurity

I spoke with Christian Science Monitor's Monitoring Global Outlook about Kyrgyzstan's looming energy crisis, the lack of effective US-Central Asia policy, and China's regional vision:

MGO: Afghanistan and Pakistan have just agreed on electricity transmission pricing, a key step for the CASA-1000 plan. How likely is it that this project will be completed?

CASA-1000 only works if Kyrgyzstan is a net exporter [of electricity]. At the time this was being formulated two to three years ago, it was. Then 2014 rolls around, and Kyrgyzstan is dealing with issue after issue after issue, such that we are all of a sudden looking at it being a net importer. Without Kyrgyzstan, this project is falling apart. Tajikistan can export, but it doesn’t seem like it would be nearly enough to support Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. So it’s a fine notion. But, in practice, there is very little reason to think this is going to see completion anytime soon.

MGO: So what happened in Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan is facing a perfect storm of energy issues this year.

There was a very low and late glacial runoff this year, such that their main reservoir was almost 25 percent below the level that it needed to be at last check. And there’s no reason to think it will get up to normal levels before the year is out.

On April 10, Gazprom came in and purchased Kyrgyzgaz, which is the state gas matrix, for a dollar, and forgave the debt remaining. Four days later, Uzbekistan decided to shut off gas exports to southern Kyrgyzstan. It’s been six months and there is no reason to think that will be turned back on before winter comes.