Detente between Tashkent and Astana paves way for $5bn gas deal with China

KazTransGasKazakhstan is to start exporting natural gas to China for the first time this month after KazTransGas signed a deal with the PetroChina International Company Limited that is expected to generate revenues of $1bn for Astana in return for the supply of 5bn m³ of gas from its western deposits.
The gas will be delivered to the Khorgos Gateway border crossing between the two countries and has only been made possible by the improvement in relations between Kazakhstan and neighbouring Uzbekistan since the death of the latter’s President Islam Karimov. While his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev has long championed regional integration initiatives, Karimov was less enthusiastic and twice withdrew Uzbekistan from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the military alliance formed by six Eurasian states after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Under Karimov, Uzbekistan also periodically closed its borders to trade altogether.
On taking up the presidency after Karimov’s death, Uzbekistan’s new supremo Shavkat Mirziyoyev made a point of looking to patch up relations with his Central Asian neighbours, one of the outcomes of which has been an intergovernmental agreement allowing gas from Kazakhstan’s western deposits to be transported to the south of the country across Uzbek territory. The agreement also guarantees domestic supplies to southern Kazakhstan.
“The diversification of transit and export routes for gas transportation in Kazakhstan, as well as the increase in the volume of natural gas exports, are important strategic objectives for the country,” KazMunayGas Vice President Kairat Sharipbayev said.