The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW



The energy sector of Tajikistan includes several entities. The electric power is the responsibility of the State-owned joint stock company Barqi Tojik, which entirely controls production, transportation and distribution of electricity in Tajikistan. Oil and gas production, and development of oil and gas deposits are the responsibility of the State Committee for Oil and Gas. Distribution of natural and liquefied gas in Tajikistan is carried out by the national gas company TajikGas, while import and distribution of oil products are carried out by the State Company Tajiknefteproduct. The coal-mining sector is controlled by the State Committee for Industry.

Tajikistan has 4.4 gigawatts (GWe) of generating capacity, about 90% of which is hydroelectric. A major portion of this hydroelectric capacity is used in aluminum production, which consumes 40% of all the country's electric power. Tajikistan produces practically no oil, gas, or coal of its own. However, Tajikistan imports 43 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, mostly from Uzbekistan.

Tajikistan has proven reserves of 10-12 million barrels of oil, most of which are located in the northern part of the country in the Leninobod Soghd Region. The national oil company is Tajikneftegaz, which handles oil exploration, drilling, and production.

In 2001, Tajik oil production was only 350 barrels per day (b/d), and by 2012 this had declined to 220 barrels per day (b/d). There has been a long period of production decline since Tajikistan produced 1,311 b/d in 1992. This decrease has been attributed to the 1992-1997 civil war, economic troubles, and lack of investment in the oil infrastructure. Tajikistan consumes 29,000 b/d of oil products, almost all of which are imported. The main source is Uzbekistan, which provides 70% of Tajikistan's oil product imports.

In July 2001, Tajikistan brought its first small oil refinery online at Konibodom. The refinery had a capacity of 400 b/d, and produces gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and fuel oil. The production is far too small for the country's needs, however; Tajikistan still imports almost all its oil as refined petroleum products.

Natural Gas

Tajikistan has been estimated to have 200 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas reserves, comprised of several fields. In 2000, Tajikistan began operations in the Khoja Sartez field in the southern Khatlon Region, and has also increased its activity in the Qizil Tumshuq deposit in the Kolkhozobod District of the southern Khatlon Region. Tajikistan has also tried to increase its own gas production, in 2000, by exploratory drilling in the Khatlon region. Apparently, some of the drilling has been successful enough to interest China in future drilling activities.

The total natural gas production for Tajikistan in 2000 was 1.4 Bcf. With its small domestic production, Tajikistan must rely on imports for 95% of the natural gas it consumes.

Tajikistan has had continuing problems in paying for the gas it imports. There is an intergovernmental agreement with Uzbekistan for a fixed annual quantity, but consumption has been running ahead of schedule. An additional problem is that only 18% of the gas consumed in 2001 was paid for by users. As a result of these issues, Tajikistan has had to cut off non-paying customers and negotiate with suppliers for more gas.


HydroelectricTajikistan's mountains and rivers provide it an estimated four percent of the world's hydropower resources. The Tajik government has no shortage of promises and offers to help develop this natural resource, and is currently balancing competing interests and priorities to maximize the financial benefits hydropower will bring to Tajikistan (and its elites). Tajikistan's energy industry is mismanaged and outdated. Power outages are the norm; urban areas in winter frequently only have limited hours of electricity a day and rural areas can be completely without power, despite the existence of Soviet-era lines. Meanwhile, consumption and demand continue to rise.

In addition to meeting domestic energy needs, the Tajik government sees the potential to export electricity south to Afghanistan and Pakistan, connecting to the new Afghan grid slated for construction. An excess of electricity already exists in the summer months that could be exported with the right transmission lines bypassing the Uzbek grid. The Tajik electric company's chief engineer reported that in 2005 Tajikistan wasted 1.2 billion kW hours because Uzbekistan would not agree to allow transit through its transmission lines.

The major river system in Tajikistan is the Amudarya watershed. The Amudarya River itself only forms a relatively small portion of Tajikistan's southern border with Afghanistan as it flows westward then northwest toward the Aral Sea. Its major tributaries within Tajikistan include the Panj River along the southern border of Tajikistan with Afghanistan, the Gunt and Bartango rivers in the eastern part of the country, and the Kafirnigan and Vakhsh rivers in central and western Tajikistan. Of these, the Vakhsh is the most important, in terms of power production potential. Other river systems in Tajikistan are the Zerovshan, which flows westward into Uzbekistan before eventually merging with the Amudarya, and the Syrdarya, which flows westward through the northern panhandle section of Tajikistan into Uzbekistan and then into Kazakhstan before eventually emptying into the Aral Sea.

There is a greater hydroelectric power capacity in Tajikistan than any other country in in Central Asia. Tajikistan has the potential to produce more than 300 billion kilowatt hours electricity per year, but currently produces only 16.5 billion kilowatt hours. The majority of Tajikistan's hydroelectric energy is produced by the hydroelectric stations on the Vakhsh River, with a total capacity of about 3,800 megawatts (MWe), producing 14 billion kilowatt hours annually. The largest of these is the Nurek hydroelectric facility, which is rated at 3,000 MWe.

The Nurek Dam was constructed by the Soviet Union between the years of 1961 and 1980. At 300 m (984 ft) it is currently the tallest dam in the world. It is uniquely constructed, with a central core of cement forming an impermeable barrier within a 300-meter-high rock and earth fill construction. Length of the dam top is 714m, width at foundation level is 1420m and at the dam top is 20m.The volume of the mound is 54 million m. Antiseismic belts were provided at the upper dam shell due to increase dam seismicity starting from 855m and for the full slope length and width that accept and smoothly disburse shear stress that develops in the dam during earthquake. Reinforce concrete elements and flexible steel connections limit and adjust the operation of antiseismic belt. Rock fill between belt blocks provide solid drain lay that ensures dynamic pore pressure decrease in the material of the upper dam shell. Electricity output expanded with the completion of the Sangtuda-1 hydropower dam - finished in 2009 with Russian investment. The smaller Sangtuda-2, built with Iranian investment, began operating in 2011. The Khatlon dam for this power plant (also referred to as the Sangtuda 1 & 2 power stations) was built with Russian and Iranian financing; overall, the two Sangtuda power stations were expected to generate nearly 900 MWe of electricity. This has been a very long-duration project which was started back in the Soviet days, but sat in limbo for many years because of lack of funding.

Sangtuda I is a 670 MW/2.7 billion kilowatt per hour (kWh) project to be built by RAO UES, Russia's electricity monopoly with significant funding from the Russian state budget. RAO UES wants the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to have partial equity, but the IFIs want the electricity to be exported. President Rahmonov has said Sangtuda must be used to meet domestic energy needs, but allowed that electricity might be exported in the summer. Price: $550 million. Construction started in 2005, slated to come on line by 2008.

Sangtuda II is a 220 MW/0.9 billion kWh project constructed and financed by the Iranians, who will own the plant for 12.5 years, after which it will revert to Tajikistan. Also to be used for domestic energy needs. Price: $200 million. Time: The groundbreaking was 20 February 2006, scheduled to come on line by 2010.

An even larger hydroelectric facility is in the planning stages for Shurob, which could have a generating capacity of about 750 MWe. A similar sized facility is planned for Kaphtarguzar, on the Obikhingou River in the Garm Valley, while a truly mammoth hydroelectric facility of about 4,000 MWe capacity is being planned for Dashtijum, on the Panj River along the Afghan border.

RoghunAn even larger facility at Roghun (which at 335 meters height will be the tallest dam in the world) is under construction and will have a capacity of 3,600 MWe. Roghun would double Tajikistan's electricity generation capacity, but little is being done at present, partly because of security problems in the area. There are also concerns about the relatively high seismic activity of the area, which present engineering as well as safety issues. The World Bank agreed to fund two feasibility studies for the dam (technical-economic, and social-enviromental), scheduled to be completed in mid-2013.

The Tajik government has pushed Rogun as the crown jewel in its hydropower scheme, and Russian Aluminum (RusAl) has already committed to at least two of the six turbines. RusAl has stated that Rogun energy should be directed towards aluminum production. Uzbek President Karimov has come out strongly against the Rogun project, citing environmental concerns, and RusAl has been in close consultation with the Uzbek government over Rogun. Tajikistan has said it wants an international consortium to build Rogun because it is unsure of RusAl's commitment to the project.

Russian Aluminum, headed by oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has been pushing to develop Tajikistan's hydro sector, but found itself shut out of Sangtuda I and II. RusAl signed the 16 January 2006 protocol committing itself as a "co-investor" in Rogun and to carry out a feasibility study. RusAl is actively looking for investment partners for Rogun. MoE sources say RusAl has committed to two of Rogun's six turbines. RusAl needs electricity to power and expand aluminum production at the Tajik Aluminum Plant (Tawas), and has hinted at building a second aluminum smelter near the President's hometown of Dungara. RusAl objects to exporting Tajik electricity unless the electricity needed for aluminum production is met. RusAl has been in close touch with Uzbek President Karimov and especially First Daughter Gulnora. It is rumored Deripaska promised Karimov he would be consulted before RusAl committed to Rogun.

President Rahmon's response to Tajikistan's chronic energy insecurity was in late 2009 to launch a massive campaign to fund and build the Roghun Hydroelectric Plant. The government's fundraising efforts, however, have drawn serious concern from international donors. Individuals and organizations across all walks of life have been coerced into buying shares in the project. Many people have been told they will lose their jobs unless they contribute an amount equal to many months' salary. While the government claims all share sales are voluntary, there is ample evidence that officials are forcing the population to cough up funds. Apart from the human rights question, donors are concerned that the nearly $200 million in funds raised so far will not be accounted for and spent transparently. Considering Talco's share of electricity consumption, the Roghun campaign looked like a means to ensure Talco's continued profitability. The coerced share sales finally ended in mid-2010 under intense criticism from donors, particularly the IMF, and all sales of Roghun shares in 2012.

Energy Transmission Infrastructure

Tajikistan has two separate electrical networks, both linking to Uzbekistan. Tajikistan's system is split into a northern grid in the Leninabad region and a southern grid. There are plans to eventually link the two systems, and a study is being financed with Kuwaiti aid to look at possible improvements to the Tajik power grid.

There are natural gas pipelines from Uzbekistan to Dushanbe, and under a barter deal with Uzbekistan, gas is exported from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan in exchange for transit across Tajikistan for a rail transport corridor and a natural gas pipeline. There are also a number of smaller hydroelectric projects active or in construction. The Pamir II dam, on the Gunt River, is almost completed and will have a capacity of 14 MWe to go along with another 14 MWe capacity at the already-existing Pamir I dam. However, another $10-$12 million is needed to reportedly redo the water supply so that there will be a large enough volume of water to drive the hydro turbines.

Donors are pushing regional energy market integration and the construction of power lines that will allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to sell surplus summer electricity output to Afghanistan and Pakistan. A 220 kW line from Tajikistan to Afghanistan is under construction with Asian Development Bank financing, and will be finished in late 2010. The larger CASA-1000 power line project to link to Afghanistan and Pakistan has been delayed by financing problems.

Join the mailing list

One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias

Page last modified: 05-03-2013 19:05:59 ZULU