Uzbekistan has begun drilling for shale oil at the Sangruntau deposit in northern Navoi Region, an unnamed government official told the Novyy Vek newspaper on March 20.
Business New Europe reported in February that the $600-million project, the first attempt to develop shale oil in Central Asia, would compensate for falling oil production in Uzbekistan and reduce its reliance on imports from Kazakhstan. Officials are tightlipped about who’s paying for all this, but Novyy Vek said financing came partially from “foreign loans.”
The project will provide up to 8 million metric tons of shale oil and up to 1 million metric tons of oil products a year, Novyy Vek reported, adding that Uzbekistan's shale oil reserves are estimated at 47 billion metric tons.
According to the 2012 BP Statistical Review of World Energy, Uzbekistan's oil production fell from 7.2 million metric tons in 2001 to 3.2 million in 2011, while consumption decreased from 6.7 million metric tons to 4.4 million over the same period.