Headlines from the Caspian: December 19, 2022
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Dec 20, 2022
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan to Supply the EU with Electricity with New Agreement
On December 17, the leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Hungary, and Romania signed a joint agreement on a subsea electricity cable which would bring Azerbaijani electricity to Romania, and green energy to Hungary, and then to the rest of the European Union (EU), including Ukraine and Moldova. This 745-mile cable will help Europe diversify its energy sources away from Russia, and it is likely to begin operation within the next year. As part of the agreement, the European Commission (EC) has agreed to fund the project, which is to cost an estimated EUR 2.3 billion.
Source: Euractiv, NPR, Romania Insider
French Energy Company Signs Uch-Uchak Solar Project in Uzbekistan
After a period of bidding, it was French energy company, Voltalia that secured the construction rights to the 123MW Uch-Uchak solar project. This solar project will be established in Uzbekistan’s Khorezm province, along the country’s border with Turkmenistan. About the significance of this project, Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc stated: “Uzbekistan will be one of Voltalia’s key markets going forward and we are proud to support the country in reaching its ambitious 2030 targets, substantially increasing the country’s renewable electricity production and its energy independence.”
Source: Power Technology
Uzbekistan Begins Shipping Copper to the European Union
On December 17, for the first time, Uzbekistan sent a freight train filled with copper to the European Union (EU), bypassing Russian railways. The freight, with 46 rail cars filled with copper from the Almalyk Mining and Metallurgical Combine will travel along the Middle Corridor to Bulgaria. This update in the development of the Middle Corridor serves as a significant step in lessening European dependence on Russia.
Georgian Government Announces New Plans for Major HPP Project
On December 19, the Georgian government announced that it will seek a new tender for its construction of the Khudoni Hydro Power Plant (HPP) project, which is projected to become the country’s second-largest HPP. The announcement comes after an annulment of the deal with previous partners, that had not succeeded in finishing the project 10 years ago as projected. The Georgian economy minister stated: “Our approach is to implement such large-scale, strategic projects with an active participation of the state.”
Kazakhstan Increases Coal Production to Meet Greater Demand in Europe
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported that Kazakhstan has increased coal production by 108 million tons in the past year to meet growing demands in Europe. This number is expected to increase to 111 million tons by 2025. The increase in the country’s coal production can be attributed to the need to replace sanctioned Russian coal supplies. Poland, Switzerland, Latvia, and Estonia have benefited from Kazakhstan's coal in the past year. Switzerland was the largest importer of Kazakhstan’s coal, having imported 6.2 million tons of Kazakhstani coal since the start of the year.
Source: The Astana Times
Uzbekistan Temporarily Halts LPG Export, Focuses on Domestic Demand
On December 16, Uzbekistan announced that it would suspend export of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) until 2023, in order to ensure that it could handle its domestic demand for gas during its ongoing energy shortage crisis. Although Uzbekistan did not specify which countries it would suspend export of LPG to, one of the main importers of LPG from Uzbekistan is Tajikistan.
Ukraine Receives First Round of Energy Aid from Azerbaijan
Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy announced on December 18 that, “The shipment of energy equipment to support the energy sector of Ukraine has arrived from the Republic of Azerbaijan,” with the second batch to arrive in the near future. This aid, consisting of 45 power transformers, and five backup power plants, is intended to accommodate Ukraine’s wartime energy needs.
Security and Politics
Tokayev to Visit Uzbekistan this Week
President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will visit Uzbekistan on December 21-22 to meet with Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan. The two will discuss potential areas of cooperation, including trade, transit infrastructure, borders and customs, and humanitarian issues.
Kazakhstan’s Steppe Conservation Initiative Recognized as One of the UN’s Top 10 Restoration Project Flagships
Kazakhstan has been internationally recognized for its grassland restoration initiatives as one of the top 10 World Restoration Flagship programs. The UN granted acknowledged these efforts at the 2022 Montreal Biodiversity Conference on December 13. Kazakhstan’s Altyn Dala (golden steppe) Conservation Initiative has set aside 750,000 square km of land to restore steppes (semi-deserts) home to endangered Saiga antelope. Their efforts have increased the antelope population from 50,000 in 2005 to 1.3 million.
Source: The Astana Times
Sources: Astana Times, Euractiv, Eurasianet, Kazinform, NPR, Power Technology, Reuters, Romania Insider, Ukrinfor