Uzbekistan to Cut Gas Exports Amid Domestic Shortages

TASHKENT (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will cut natural gas exports, which mostly go to China, because of domestic energy shortages, the Central Asian country's energy ministry said on Thursday.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered some export shipments to be diverted to domestic consumers late on Wednesday, and his office said the decision would add 7-8 million cubic meters a day to domestic supply.

The energy ministry said the exact details of export adjustments were yet to be determined.

The former Soviet republic plans to produce 51 billion cubic metres (Bcm) of gas this year and usually exports 13-15 Bcm annually. Last year, more than half of its export volumes went to China with the remainder split between Russia, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries.

This year, however, exports to China fell sharply due to economic disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and shipments to Russia were suspended altogether with no subsequent reports of their resumption.

Still, many Uzbek households have faced gas and power shortages over the past few weeks and public discontent drew the attention of Mirziyoyev who ordered domestic supplies to be prioritised over exports.

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