BISHKEK, December 20 (RIA Novosti) – Kyrgyzstan has offered Russian energy giant Gazprom the chance to buy 75 percent of the national gas company Kyrgyzgas for just $1, to help the beleaguered Kyrgyz firm settle its debt woes and cut the republic’s dependence on gas imports, Kyrgyzgas Deputy General Director Kuralbek Naskeyev said on Thursday.
Gazprom intends to buy 75 percent of Kyrgyzgas from the Kyrgyz government and also to launch development on the Mailuu-Suu-IV and Kugart gas deposits in southern Kyrgyzstan. This would allow the impoverished ex-Soviet republic to meet domestic demand for 500 million cubic meters of gas a year.
Kyrgyzstan currently does not produce natural gas and is wholly dependent on imports from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
“Today the heads of Kyrgyzgas and Gazprom will meet in Moscow to decide on [Kyrgyzgas’] privatization. Deloitte & Touche assessed our assets and gave two valuation options - $38 million and about $20 million,” Naskeyev said, adding that the Kyrgyz gas operator had debts of $38 million.
The deal to buy Kyrgyzgas would allow Gazprom to start prospecting and developing the two gas deposits. Kyrgyzgas also plans to build a trunk gas pipeline in the north to facilitate gas transit to China, Naskeyev said.
Gas remains the main heating fuel for domestic use in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek and the surrounding area. But extreme cold spells in winter prompt the local authorities to cut gas supplies to consumers to minimum levels. In one recent incident, residents across Bishkek had to deal with reduced gas supplies on Sunday evening after temperatures plunged to minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 degrees Celsius).