Kazakhstan questions reliability of Russian gas supply

The government of Kazakhstan is considering the possibility of connecting to the Force of Siberia 2 gas pipeline project, but it is unclear how reliable the supply will be, said Kazakhstani Deputy Energy Minister Makhambet Dosmukhambetov on Tuesday.

“In the Eastern Kazakhstan province, the gas field in the region has relatively small quantities of gas, which are not sufficient to supply the entire province – only on a regional scale. There they are considering an option, if Russia and China are in any case going to be building the Force of Siberia 2 and [it will pass] through Kazakhstan’s territory, we will have the opportunity to gasify the east using this gas pipeline. Or we will consider other options,” the TASS news agency cites Dosmukhambetov as saying.

“But these are still issues that require careful consideration, appraisals of what gas, what the costs will be, how reliable it will be,” the deputy minister explained.

He noted that the project is currently at the examination and negotiations stage. “Not only the price, but also the reliability of supply is also a very important aspect, and so in certain cases we are proposing to have the possibility of using two alternative sources,” he stressed.

He added that the final course of action will be chosen based on all of these considerations.

Kazakhstan currently consumes roughly 14 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year, of which it purchases roughly one seventh from Russia. The country’s internal gas production is 55 bcm per year, most of which is exported.

The Force of Siberia 2 project or the western route is viewed by Russian officials as a continuation of the gas trade with China which, after 10 years of unsuccessful negotiations, the Kremlin announced victoriously in 2014, immediately after the West imposed its package of Crimea-related sanctions on Russia.

While the Force of Siberia 1 will start being used in December 2019 (at a volume of 5 bcm per year, or 13% of the pipe’s capacity), negotiations on the second contract remain at an impasse.

In autumn 2018, after a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said that a project with a capacity of 30 bcm per year had been approved by China’s senior leadership, but that “quite a bit” remained to be done before it could be launched.

“Xi Jinping ordered that the contract be coordinated as soon as possible,” said Novak at the time. However, the parties still have not proceeded to the signing of a binding agreement. Russia’s Gazprom and China’s CNPC have only a memorandum of intent signed in 2015.

  Kazakhstan, Russia

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