Uzbekistan avoids oil dependence

Uzbekistan avoids oil dependence

Azerbaijan , Baku, Sept. 16 /Trend/

Azer Ahmedbeyli, an expert of Trend's analytical center

Uzbekistan , as a developing country in the post Soviet area, experiences economic difficulties resulting from break of economic ties between the subjects of the USSR which had been established for long years, but seeks to resolve them with the maximally possible impact. This is similar to picking "puzzle" when the fragments of the picture sooner or later take their places.

Ranking the second for natural gas production amongst CIS countries, and joining the top ten of largest gas-producing countries worldwide, a country with 30 million population incurs deficient in providing oil, more exactly oil products. According to the latest BP statistical report, in 2010 Uzbekistan produced 3.7 million tons of oil, but consumed 5 million tons.

For a period of less than a year, the price of gasoline twice increased in the country - by an average of 15 percent in December 2010 and by 10 percent in August this year. Gasoline production fell last year by 10.9 percent - up to 1.444 million tons, diesel fuel - by 13.6 percent up to 1.125 million tons, kerosene - 12.5 percent up to 372,800 tons.

Deciding to eliminate the dependence on oil imports and extracting such large volumes of gas, Uzbekistan declared that by 2017 the country will complete the construction of the plant to produce synthetic liquid fuels (GTL) on the base of Shurtan gas-chemical complex (Kashkadarin region). The document on establishing a joint venture Uzbekistan GTL was signed in 2009 between Uzbekneftegaz, Malaysian Petronas and South Africa's Sasol. Preliminary project cost is $2.739 billion. It is assumed that the plant will process 3.5 billion cubic meters of gas and produce 672,000 tons of diesel oil, 278 tons of aviation kerosene, 361,000 tons of naphtha and 63,000 tons of liquefied gas.

An important factor for the plant construction was the intention to transfer the country's vehicle fleet (more than 1.6 million vehicles) from traditional gasoline and diesel fuel to synthetic - compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas. According to the forecasts of the State Oil and Gas Inspectorate of Uzbekistan, as of the beginning of 2016, the number of vehicles using liquefied and compressed natural gas as fuel is projected to reach 29% of the total number of vehicles in the country.

The future plant to produce synthetic liquid fuels in Uzbekistan will be the first of its kind in Eurasia, and although the process of converting natural gas into high quality synthetic fuel requires large capital expenditures, for Uzbekistan it is worthy: the country removes the question of dependence on oil imports.

It is possible to compare the quality of traditional diesel fuel with that to be produced at the new GTL-plant (Fischer-Tropsch method):

Usual diesel fuel

GTL ( Fischer-Tropsch process)

Sulphur content

500 per thousand

< 5 per thousand

Share of aromaticcompounds

10-25%

< 1%

Cetane number

45-55

> 70

Source: UCT Chemical Engineering Schools Project. 2010. Chemical Industries Resource Pack. Cape Town.

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