27 november 2015

Central Asia news

Who will end up owing Sangtuda

14.09.2004 14:53 msk

Dmitry Glumskov, Natalia Grib


During negotiations with leaders of Tajikistan in Dushanbe, President of Iran Mohammad Hatami offered $250 million for the controlling interest in the Sangtuda-1, the second most powerful hydroelectric power plant in Tajikistan. The offer may upset the Tajik foreign debts payments arrangement in accordance with which the Russian Joint Energy Systems was to take over 51% of the stock.

Yesterday, PR department of the president of Tajikistan released a statement to the effect that a memorandum was signed with Hatami in accordance with which both countries pledge to establish Sangtuda-1, a joint venture which will complete construction of the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power plant on the Vakhsh (a river 120 kilometers from Dushanbe). Construction of the hydroelectric power plant began in 1989 and suspended soon. Completion of construction is expected within three years.

President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmonov said after the negotiations that Iran offers to invest $250 million in the project in return for controlling interest in the Sangtuda-1. According to Rakhmonov, the cost of the project exceeds $500 million. "51% of the investments will come from Iran, $100 million from Russia, and $120 million from Tajikistan," RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Rakhmonov as saying. Sources in the Tajik presidential administration admit that "Iran offers more than Dushanbe ever expected."

The Russian Joint Energy Systems counted on ending up with controlling interest in the Sangtuda-1 hydroelectric power plant until recently. This July, presidents Vladimir Putin and Rakhmonov reached an agreement on settlement of Tajikistan's foreign debt to Russia. Evaluation of objects of the hydroelectric power plant was to be completed by October 1, and the Russian Joint Energy Systems was to end up with 51% of the stock (through additional stock, that is) before December 15. Russian company's Press Secretary Tatiana Mityaeva says that specialists of the Russian Joint Energy Systems examined the hydroelectric power plant and offered $100 million for 51% of the stock. In return, the company would have invested $50 million in completion of construction, and Tajikistan's debts to Russia to the same amount would have been written off.

"Tajikistan probably expected more than what Russia was prepared to offer and did offer," assumed Dmitry Skryabin, an analyst with Finam investment company. An official of the Ministry of Industry and Energy was quoted as saying that "a framework accord is not a treaty yet. We will do everything in our power to get the controlling interest for Russia." "Last week, we set up a trilateral commission to discuss the equal participation in construction. No other accords have been made so far," said a source in the Russian Joint Energy Systems. "Our representatives will attend additional negotiations in Astana and Tehran next week."

Should the Russian Joint Energy Systems end up with the controlling interest, the company will gain access to energy export from Tajikistan to Kazakhstan and Iran and eventually to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, involvement in this major project in Tajikistan will enable the Russian Joint Energy Systems to solidify its positions in the local market and participate in construction of other hydroelectric power plant producing cheap electricity.

Dmitry Glumskov, Natalia Grib

Kommersant, September 14, 2004, p. 15

© Translated by Ferghana.Ru