Fuel Crisis Grips Kazakhstan | EurasiaNet.org

A line at a gas station in Almaty late on October 10. Kazakhstan, a nation rich in hydrocarbons, is grappling with a gasoline shortage that has enveloped the entire country, including the capital, Astana, and the southern metropolis of Almaty. (Photo: EurasiaNet.org)

Kazakhstan, a nation rich in hydrocarbons, is grappling with a gasoline shortage that has enveloped the entire country, including the capital, Astana, and the southern metropolis of Almaty.
 
Portents of a shortage appeared in late September, when Kazakhstani media outlets began reporting that service stations in the north and east of the country were experiencing trouble supplying customers with gas. Authorities acted swiftly to tamp down concerns, assuring motorists that there was no fuel crisis in the offing. Speaking at a news conference on September 22, a deputy energy minister, Mazgum Mirzagaliyev, downplayed speculation that a gas crunch was looming, asserting that fuel shortages only affected select retailers. The problem would blow over in a matter of days, he pledged.
 
But it has not turned out way. These days, many service stations are providing fuel only in exchange for coupons. These little slips of paper, which can be exchanged for set amounts of gas — 10, 20 or 30 liters — are distributed to employees of certain companies that bulk-buy the coupons in advance as a form of insurance against seasonal price spikes.
 
For motorists without the coupons, there is nothing left to do but scour cities looking for the very few service stations that will take money. To make matters worse, gas retailers appear to be exploiting the moment by hiking prices by around one-tenth. Some service station chains in western regions of the country reportedly raised prices by around 35 percent, but were forced to backtrack by state regulators.
 
Despite the soaring costs of fuel,…

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