25 July 2011

Gas Rationing

Kyrgyzstan gets most of its gasoline from Russia, but a few weeks ago most of that gas from Russia stopped being delivered.  As always there are lots of reasons floating around to explain why this happened, from just sorting out issues regarding a customs union to Russia's desire to control the next elections.  It was important enough that the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan flew to Russia to talk to Putin about it and last week it was announced that Russian gasoline would again be sent to Kyrgyzstan.

Whatever the politics behind the whole thing, having that much less gasoline coming into Kyrgyzstan was a problem.  The price of gas didn't go up much because I assume the price is regulated; it went up less than 25 cents a gallon which is only a small percentage, but still noticeable.  Instead, gasoline has been rationed.  I've seen the limits placed between 10 and 20 liters per fill up.  Apparently most of the rationing went on in Bishkek, but since that's the place that used far more gas than any other part of the country, the rationing would have been more noticeable there even if it was the same throughout the country.

When we were in Bishkek yesterday there was far less traffic than there would have been on Saturday.  The marshrutkas also weren't running from Bishkek to Tokmok in the late afternoon (they weren't the week before either) and the shared taxis were charging 100 som per seat rather than their usual 50-60 som.  There also weren't as many marshrutkas running around the city and it was more difficult to get around. 

I don't know how quickly things will get back to normal.  Since we don't have a car and there isn't a huge amount of traffic in Tokmok, I probably won't notice unless we go to Bishkek.  But it's lucky we haven't needed to go anywhere for the last few weeks.

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