Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has outlined plans to improve gas supplies around the country.
Speaking on August 31, Kyrgyzstan's Independence Day, Atambaev said Russian company Gazprom would start selling gas to Kyrgyzstan on October 1 at a price of $165 per 1,000 cubic meters, far cheaper than the $224 per 1,000 cubic meters Kyrgyzstan has been paying its neighbors.
Gazprom completed a deal to purchase Kyrgyzstan's state gas company Kyrgyzgaz in April this year for a symbolic $1 and a pledge to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into Kyrgyzstan's aging and inefficient gas infrastructure.
Atambaev noted he met with Gazprom chief Aleksei Miller recently.
"We discussed the situation with supplying the [Kyrgyz] republic with gas for almost 2.5 hours and reached a series of agreements that are vital from a strategic point of view," Atambaev said
Atambaev said Gazprom would build a pipeline connecting north and south Kyrgyzstan starting next spring and would start carrying out exploration for gas deposits at the Mayli-Suu-4 and Kokart sites in Kyrgyzstan's southern Jalal-Abat Province.
He said Gazprom had also agreed to provide a $20-million credit to Kyrgyzstan to improve the energy situation in Osh and other southern areas of the country that have been hard hit since the contract for gas with neighboring Uzbekistan expired in April and supplies were halted.
Residents of southern Kyrgyzstan have been complaining about the situation since the cut-off happened and increasingly questioning the benefits of selling the country's gas company to Gazprom.
Kyrgyzstan has been buying gas from Uzbekistan, and recently from Kazakhstan also.
In an ironic twist, Gazprom and Russian government officials have said the gas sold to Kyrgyzstan would be sourced from fields Gazprom is developing in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan has been the chief supplier of gas to Kyrgyzstan since Soviet times but strained relations between Tashkent and Bishkek have led to frequent suspensions in supplies.
Kyrgyz officials have warned people to stock coal for the coming winter and Atambaev cautioned in his address Gazprom's projects would not be completed until 2016.
"Before 2016, we have two more winters we must live through without shaking up the social situation [in Kyrgyzstan]," Atambaev said.
With additional reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and fergananews.com