Tajikistan canceled the Agreement on long-term cooperation between the Government of Tajikistan and the Russian company RusAl, which provided for the completion of the Rogun hydropower station on the Vakhsh River, as well as the modernization of the existing (TadAZ) and the construction of a new aluminum plant in Tajikistan. The official reason for this step, according to the press service of the President of Tajikistan, was that RusAl did not fulfill the agreement on the implementation of these projects.
Later, on September 11, Emomali Rakhmon, the president of Tajikistan, told reporters in an interview that “we will not allow the fate of such an important strategic facility for Tajikistan to be in the hands of a private company. The decision that Russian Aluminum will not participate in the Rogun project was announced to the Russian government a year ago. We also informed the Russian side three months ago. ” The president also said that “recently Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Naryzhkin visited Tajikistan, who said that the Russian side is preparing a new agreement on Rogun”.
reference: The Rogun hydropower plant is the sixth, highest level of the Vakhsh cascade and is located 110 km away. east of Dushanbe. The preparatory period for the construction of the Rogun HPP with an installed capacity of 3,600 MW began in 1976. In 1987, the construction of the dam began, the height of which reached 40 meters by 1993. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the construction of hydropower plants was suspended and the dam was eroded by a powerful flood flow. In 1993, Tajikistan and Russia signed the Agreement, according to which the Rogun HPP is considered joint and the parties have equal shares in this project. In 2005, Tajikistan unilaterally annulled this Agreement.
The question arises why the Tajik authorities have only now decided that “the fate of such an important strategic facility for Tajikistan” cannot be in the hands of a private company. And this is almost after 3 years since the signing of this Agreement, which took place on October 16, 2004 in the presence of the presidents of both countries in Dushanbe.
As an economist, professor of the Russian-Tajik Slavic University George Koshlakov "RusAl" Rogun, said, Rogun was not needed. And it was clear from the very first day. He needed electricity for a new aluminum plant in Tajikistan. And for this, Rogun is not needed in the form that is needed for Tajikistan. “In general, I consider it a mistake when the government entered into an agreement with a private company, RusAl.” In this case, it turned out to be an unequal political status, ”said Koshlakov.
But, as observers note, the reason for the cancellation of the Agreement with RusAl is not so much an economic, as a political motive. Experts in Dushanbe note that the contradictions between the leadership of Tajikistan and RusAl began to emerge after Oleg Deripaska’s visit to Tashkent in 2005 and his meetings with President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov. Immediately after that, disagreements on the type and height of the dam appeared between the authorities of Tajikistan and the Russian Allium. Tajikistan insisted on a dam height of 335 meters and the installation of six units, and RusAl and its consultant German design and engineering firm Lahmayer developed a feasibility study for the construction of the Rogun hydropower station with a dam height not exceeding 285 meters and installing 4 turbines with a total capacity of 2, 4 thousand MW. Tajikistan categorically disagreed with such a project.
In this case, RusAl refers to its research, according to which the construction of hydroelectric power stations with low dams is much more efficient for generating cheap electric power. But the Tajik authorities claim that the construction of a high dam in this area does not pose a threat and will allow in the future to regulate the flow of water in the Vakhsh River, both for generating electricity at hydropower plants located downstream and for land-reclamation purposes. But, as experts point out, it is the latter detail that does not suit neighboring Uzbekistan, whose farmland will depend on the flow of water from Tajikistan. The fact is that a dam with a height of 335 meters is a huge reservoir of water and in the future the passage of water from this dam can be an effective argument in resolving differences that may arise between countries. Tajik political analyst Parviz Mulladzhanov believes that RusAl decided not to spoil relations with Uzbekistan. Therefore, immediately after signing the agreement, the question of the height and type of the dam arose. ” Mulladzhanov also believes that RusAl had its own interests, it was beneficial for Rogun HPP and TadAZ - a Tajik aluminum plant and a new one, which RusAl was to build, became part of a single international system for the production and sale of aluminum under complete control. Rusal. “Only in this case it was beneficial for RusAl to take on the completion of the Rogun hydropower station and the modernization of TadAZ or TALKO, as it is now called. Otherwise, “Rusalu” participation in this project was not profitable, ”Mullajanov noted.
The fact is that RusAl did not conceal its intentions to participate in the privatization of Tajikistan’s largest industrial facility, TadAZ, which produces about 410 thousand tons of aluminum. But last year, the government of Tajikistan announced that it was not going to sell this asset. Therefore, the experts do not exclude the possibility that after the leadership of Russian Aluminum was convinced that TadAZ would not be put up for auction, Deripaska decided to abandon all other projects in Tajikistan.
Another important aspect in the disagreements between RusAl and the Tajik government, according to experts, could be the share of parties in this project. Tajikistan was counting on a controlling stake in the Rogun hydropower station and motivated this desire by the fact that 804 million Soviet rubles were invested in the Rogun hydropower plant back in Soviet times. However, as Georgy Petrov, head of the laboratory of hydropower engineering at the Institute of Water Problems of the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, notes, by the early 1990s, most of the construction had fallen into decay, and the cost of these costs dropped several times. Sources in the Ministry of Energy and Industry of Tajikistan reported that according to the project proposed by Russian Aluminum, the share of Tajikistan in the future hydropower station could be no higher than 17%. This did not suit the Tajik authorities.
According to experts, due to the general rise in prices, an increase in the cost of the project is inevitable. Information was passed in the media with reference to the head of RAO UES of Russia, Anatoly Chubais, who estimates the cost of completing the construction of the Rogun hydropower plant at six to seven billion dollars.
By the way, immediately after the cancellation of the agreement with Russian Aluminum, reports began to appear that it was RAO UES that could become the new partner of Tajikistan for the completion of the Rogun hydropower station. According to RIA Novosti, the chairman of the committee of the Federation Council for CIS Affairs, Vadim Gustov, said that Russia and Tajikistan are preparing a new version of an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of the Rogun hydropower station, in which the functions of the project contractor are assigned to RAO UES. “It is required 5 billion to finish the construction in 2008-2009. We provided this money in a three-year budget, which will allow launching the first block of hydropower plants in 2008, and finishing work in 2009, ”the senator added.
According to the same sources, Russia now claims to increase its share in the project for the construction of the Rogun hydropower plant from 50% to 75%. The final parameters of the agreement with Tajikistan are not fully agreed. It was expected that the final decision on this project will take place at the summit of leaders of the CIS countries in Dushanbe, which took place on October 5-6. Moreover, the President of Uzbekistan, a country that is not indifferent to the fate of the Rogun hydropower station, was also present at the summit.
But, after the one-on-one meeting of the presidents of Russia and Tajikistan, Vladimir Putin said that at the meeting with Emomali Rakhmon, the sides exchanged views on the draft Agreement on the completion of the Rogun hydropower plant proposed by the Russian government, and ways to continue the construction of this important facility. Moreover, all the two days of the summits, the journalists expected that the new agreement would still be signed. This was evidenced by the fact that copies of the draft agreement were in the hands of the members of the Russian delegation. But, the signing did not happen. Just as there was no meeting of the presidents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Sources claim that Tajikistan did not agree with those clauses of the Agreement, where the share of the Russian side in the future hydropower station is set at 75%.
This is evidenced by the statement of the head of RAO UES of Russia Anatoly Chubais, who already next week held the 32nd meeting of the Energy Council of the CIS countries in Dushanbe. He also held a meeting with the President of Tajikistan, after which he told reporters that “in the implementation of the Rogun hydropower plant construction project, a key role should belong to Russia. Russia, in any case, agrees to participate in this project, and now the issue of the structure of a consortium for the construction of this hydropower plant will be studied, taking into account the proposals of the President of Tajikistan to participate in the World Bank, ”said the head of the Russian energy holding. Answering the question of journalists about the financial participation of the parties in this project, Chubais stressed that it is too early to talk about this. “We must first discuss the structure of the consortium,” he said.
Meanwhile, independent political analyst Parviz Mullojanov believes that Tajikistan will agree to the participation of RAO UES of Russia in the construction of the Rogun hydropower station only if it does not find new partners, or in the event of pressure from Russia. “For RAO UES of Russia, Rogun HPP is of interest from the point of view of generating income from the subsequent sale of the electricity it produces,” the expert emphasizes. - However, the desire of RAO UES to increase its share to 75% is unlikely to appeal to the Tajik government. Therefore, the main discussion will most likely revolve around the question of this additional 25%. ” The political scientist notes that Tajikistan can agree to such conditions if it does not find an alternative to the Russian version. The expert also emphasizes that the pressure from the Russian side can play a major role in the issue of building an energy facility. “Russia has already made it clear that it will not miss the chance to participate in the Rogun project and will not give it to any third party,” he said. - You can exchange one Russian company for another, but the choice in favor of a non-Russian partner may cause serious discontent on the Russian side. And Russia has leverage on Tajikistan, the most effective of which is migration. ”
Meanwhile, the head of RAO UES of Russia, Anatoly Chubais, was completely surprised by Tajiks by proposing to build a 600 MW hydroelectric power station on Lake Sarez, thereby causing the blockage problem to disappear. According to the president of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mamadsho Ilolov, Chubais voiced this proposal at a meeting of the CIS Electric Power Council. “Perhaps this proposal will be considered,” M. Iolov concluded.
Experts find it difficult to answer the question, what is the reason for such a statement by Chubais. Does Russia really intend to take an active part in solving the problem of Lake Sarez in the Pamirs, which threatens to catastrophe the entire region, or has it lost interest in Rogun and decided to build another station in the east of the country after Sangtuda-1? In any case, according to experts, the beginning of the completion of the Rogun hydropower plant in the next few years is unlikely to be possible. And the $ 50 million allocated by the Tajik government for the preparatory work for the start of construction of hydropower plants is unlikely to be significant for such a large project.