Tajikistan snubs Russian part in 3,600-MW Rogun

Tajikistan’s president said October 27 the former Soviet Republic will finish its 3,600-MW Rogun hydroelectric project on its own, with no mention of its development agreement with a Russian aluminum producer.

President Imomali Rakhmonov told a trade conference in his residence outside Dushanbe that Tajikistan would use budget money to complete the US$1.3 billion Rogun, also called Rogunskaya.

“We will start step-by-step construction of the Rogunskaya hydro plant in 2007,” Rakhmonov said.

Rakhmonov, who is set to win a third term in office in a November vote, made no mention in his speech of RUSAL, the world’s No. 3 aluminum producer. RUSAL agreed in 2004 to invest US$560 million in Rogun as a power source for a new aluminum smelter RUSAL planned to build in southern Tajikistan.

RUSAL’s relations with Tajikistan have soured in recent weeks amid bitter exchanges over the stalled project. Tajikistan accused RUSAL of not fulfilling its investment obligations, while RUSAL retorted that Tajikistan backtracked on original promises.

RUSAL said it had been working within a framework agreement signed by the company and the Tajik government in 2004. It said “several critical points” concerning construction of the plant “relate to the competence of the Russian-Tajikistan Intergovernmental Committee in conducting their duties.”

RUSAL said it expected a decision on the future of the project to be made at the next meeting of the committee in early December, which would cover technical and cost issues and define the shares of each party in the project.

Speaking at the conference, Rakhmonov did not say how much his government was prepared to pay for the project. He said Rogun’s early facilities cost the Soviet government more than US$800 million. Tajik officials had previously estimated Rogun’s total investment at US$1.3 billion.

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