DUSHANBE -- The former head of the gas monopoly TajikGaz says that, before he was fired last week, he had proposed that Tajikistan increase natural gas exploration and build alternative pipelines to avoid paying high prices for Uzbek gas.
Fathiddin Muhsiddinov told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that pipelines could be built from Turkmenistan to Tajikistan via Afghanistan.
Tajikistan has to pay $240 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas to Uzbekistan, from whom it gets the majority of its gas. But Uzbekistan often doesn't deliver gas that it agrees to, causing severe heating problems for Tajikistan.
Ivan Gogolev, spokesman for Russia's Gazprom Zarubezhneftegaz, confirmed to RFE/RL that his company received four licenses to develop gas fields in Tajikistan and that exploration will start soon.