The move prompted Tajikistan to block the transit of Uzbek gas across its territory to eastern Uzbekistan. The Uzbek state gas company Uztransgaz says supplies were stopped after "repeated warnings" over Tajikistan's $7.3 million gas debt.
Officials at the state gas company Tajikgaz say that the debt is substantially lower, at $3 million on June 1.
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Russia's rising appetite for Central Asian gas is a direct result of the shifting fortunes of Gazprom, the state-run Russian company that controls lucrative exports. The company's total gas production has flatlined at around 550 billion cubic meters (bcm) a year. With major fields yielding less as they age, Gazprom has chosen to maintain its all-important gas balance by purchasing gas on the side -- from independent producers in Russia and from Russia's Central Asian neighbors -- instead of investing in the lengthy and costly development of untapped Arctic fields...(more)