Joomart Otorbaev, prime-minister of KR: «We won’t have enough resources to live through upcoming winter, the government proposes an honest script»

Date: 11:09, 17-09-2014.

According to officials low-water year is to blame, and the population was insistently recommended to store up coal, not to use much electricity to heat their houses in winter. No gas fr om Uzbekistan will be supplied, definitely.    

According to survey conducted by KyrTAG agency, low-cost coal has not still reached to villagers. But prices for it already are soaring. In Naryn oblast, which is hit by winter severely, people threaten with mass rallies.    

However Joomart Otorbaev, responding to KyrTAG questions, seemed to be quiet and confident, saying that the government will cope with the crises impending and the country will avoid rolling blackouts this winter.

- Soon the parliament will call for a report about preparations for winter period. Is the government ready to winter, given the fact, that Uzbekistan cut out its gas supply?

- Parliament does not summon us, it is our initiative, we directed a list of issues, of autumn-winter preparation, to deputies for consideration.    
We not only generated much electricity, but also could export to neighboring countries. Namely 2013 and 2014 winters caused hardship. This year we turned fr om power export-state into import dependent country. This can attributed to growth in economy and increase in energy consumption by population, companies and private firms.      
This year is exacerbated with shallowness and currently Toktogul reservoir has about 12 bln cc, which is three bln less than the last year. Last year we could produce 15 bln cc of water and used up all of it, hardly surviving winter.      
We can not afford to buy electricity fr om abroad because it is much expensive than it is in Kyrgyzstan, e.g in Kazkastan it costs five times higher than ours, in Russia - 6 times. Furthermore we have no such resources, and the population can not pay more. Consequently, in order to supply every kyrgyzstani with power, and to further our economy development, we should economize energy usage. We have to ask them to heat their houses with other forms of fuel, e.g coal or gas. We are now transferring  to other sources of fuel.    

- Low-water year had been forecasted long time ago, could the government store sufficient amount of water? e.g stop selling water to Kazakstan?    

- We will have an exchange operation with Kazakstan. During the vegetation time, we sent over 100 mln cc of water to Kazakstan for irrigation purposes, because Kazakstan needed water. Together with produced electricity we released water in August. In exchange, we will take back the same volume of power, whenever we need. Since September these 100-120 mln kW of power is already being delivered from Kazakstan to us. They want water in summer for irrigation, and we need it in autumn. But, moreover, we asked kazak side to supply additional energy at the expense of the next vegetation period, 500 kW mln of power in winter.    

- Are rolling blackouts expected this year?

- If we properly save power consumption, then rolling blackouts can be avoided.  About half of produced electricity is used to warm houses, enterprises, and social facilites. That is why we will seal three phase boilers which heat houses, and suggested enterprises to use coal or gas for heating. All saved power will be used not for heating, but for light and household needs … then we will have light.

- What actions will be taken?

We will seal devices. Otherwise we will witness energy shortage.

- Wh ere is logic? Since September tariffs for three phase users were raised, after some time the government forbids its usage at all. Couldn’t it be solved at a time?

- Three phase input can be used not only for heating, but also for household appliances. Three phase boiler will be sealed, so that it could not be used for heating, but for other purposes it can be used.    

-  You talked, in summer, about a mid-term program on power supply and urgency of shift to coal. Has this program been realized? Is coal available to villagers now?  

- Since early summer we launched a program on providing people and enterprises with coal. There is a fuel map. Each village will be delivered enough coal. We, together with Antimonopoly committee, will set prices for coal. At present local government officials and specialists in energy sector are working on it. There are places in every village and cities wh ere coal is being delivered now; we will control prices for coal. As compared with prices of the last year, we do not expect rise in prices for coal. Certainly, market determines price itself, there must a competition. We define cost-effectiveness of mine, services of coal transporters; define at place how much the coal will cost, but not more than it was before.        

- Antimonopoly committee’s data and real prices of coal differ. If the committee says it costs 4 300 soms, then in regions the price is different. For example, in Batken oblast coal is on sale at 7000-9000 soms. Then the measures taken, to stabilize prices, by the government proved to be in vain?

- Private firms are engaged in coal business. There is an active export of coal from Suluktu coal mine to Tajikistan. Let them sell even at 20 000 soms, but antimonopoly committee will set available prices for our citizens. We will control prices, added to coal, for transportation by establishing fare prices. If a person buys coal and then goes to market to sell it by setting his own price, let him do it. There will be a competition between him and a supplier we hire.The government will control the prices, for it has greater volumes.

- In an interview with KyrTAG representative of naryn community Karypbek Asanbaev stated, that Naryn has not still received wood, coal that is why fuel prices are high in the north. What about Naryn?

- I would not agree with this statement. There is Kara-keche coal mine there, and the volume is rather big, and we are only preparing now. Such cases perhaps occurred. But in August it was hard to transport coal for it was very hot and coal can enflame losing its quality. Delivery of coal, according to fuel map, will start in October-November, everything is ready. Now we are negotiating with coal mines and transporters.

- There is an info, that on 16 September in Naryn oblast people want to stage rallies against government’s decree on three phase power cutouts. Will the government re-consider the issue of three phase power cutout?  

- The decree will not be abolished. Here we must sense, that electricity will not suffice for all. If we have repealed the decree, then the power will reach only this December. What to do further? Who can suggest what?  

- Water shortage can not be compensated by the government, since it depends on nature. Nobody sold water this year. And water is low we should distribute it equally so that it would be enough for winter period. In Russia or Kazakstan energy costs 10-12 cents, in Kyrgyzstan it is only 1 cent, twice less than the prime cost. Furthermore, the population does not want to pay more, therefore no need to purchase it from abroad. Rallies are rallies, but anyway the government has to find way out.    

- Deputies propose the government to set a lim it on power consumption up to 600 kW hours per 70 tyiyns.

- It is even impossible to control. Here, it seems to me, the right alternative is – prohibition. Tariff policy in Kyrgyzstan is highly privileged, which led to the situation when even enterprises shifted to electricity usage for heating. There were some estimations conducted, about how much electricity can a person buy for his salary. We rank second only after Luksemburg. An ordinary Kyrgyz man can buy 24 000 kW of energy for his average wage. It says the electricity in our country is almost free. That is why we decided to raise tariffs.  

- Do the government provide compensations for those in need, e.g for pensioners?

- We have social support and those who need will get support. But we must understand, by increasing tariffs we only reach prime cost of produced energy. Nothing is free now. The government subsidizes electricity. Initial cost of energy is twice higher than the selling prices. Our task is to sell it at least at prime cost.  

- What about the gas? Will it be in the south?

- We hosted the head of Gazprom Miller, we talked about the project in detail, also agreed on a number of agreements. Our president stated that the gas will come to our country at 165$ per 1000 cubic meters. Gazprom prepares a contract, an exchange contract. Kazakstan will receive gas from Russia in the north, and will supply its own gas here to Bishkek. Energy experts are instructed to make estimations, and in the near future they will announce them. No interruptions in gas supply in the north  expected.  
- We take an every effort to pass autumn-winter period, in particular, TES-1 (heat electropower station) is transferred to gas. We supplied residents with gas and prices for it fell, now people can use gas for heating instead of power.
We have over 200 houses being built in Bishkek, we already stopped to give them permissions to use energy for heating flats and cooking. We plan to build gas turbine HEPS, based on HEPS-2. That is to say big investments are coming.
«Gazprom» has not decided yet its gas delivery to the south, but issues are discussed. And now we introduce
liquefied gas to Osh and nearby areas at available prices. We allotted 216 mln soms for this purposes there.  
There are reserves in south, it is probably the assets of «Kyrgyzneftegaz», company which extracts oil, but can possibly extract gas, too. Next week Gazprom will study gas extraction issues, there is an alternative variant, but it is very expensive one. It is a laying of gas main «Sever-Yug» (north-south) through mountains, it will require about 1-2 years and $1.5 bln

- No response from Uzbekistan on gas?

- We should cope with the situation ourselves.

- You stated: illusion, that hydropower and energy potential of our country’s rivers will always provide Kyrgyzstan with power, no longer exists. Does the government have a program on energy sector development for several years ahead?  

- Hope for hydropower is not big. Moreover, if low-water will occur often, then we will have to use what is given by nature. We have enormous amount of coal – 6 bln tons in Kyrgyzstan. We will build HSS for electricity generation which will work on coal. Also we plan to use Kara-keche coal mine at full volume, as well as mines in south Tash-Komur, Suluktu. We have promising plans to build electro and gas stations. Energy sector should be split into several ways – water, coal and gas.    

- There is an agitation in Jogorku Kenesh . . .

- Jogorku kenesh – represents people. People want to live better and rightly criticizes the government.  One must actively develop economy, so that population could live better. Jogorku kenesh as a representative of people criticizes us too, I treat it very positively, if it is constructive.

-Do you not fear that your office will not hold out this heating season?

- There is a procedure, which says how and when the government quits.

- What can you advise Kyrgyz people in terms of preparations to autumn-winter period?

- Treat the situation, in energy sector, with understanding and survive this winter with joint efforts.

We are honest with population, and said about it before, that there will be no enough energy and resources,  therefore let us act according to the script proposed by the government.  

- Thank you for your interview!

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