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EU plans funding in world’s tallest dam to dent Russia’s vitality clout


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BRUSSELS/DUSHANBE — The European Union plans to change into the highest investor on the earth’s tallest dam in Tajikistan, EU officers advised Reuters, in a transfer aimed toward serving to Central Asia reduce its reliance on Russian vitality and a part of EU’s reply to China’s Belt and Highway Initiative.

Tajikistan started in 2016 the development of the large hydropower Rogun plant, which might ship full vitality independence to the landlocked former Soviet Union nation.

The EU’s funding arm, the European Funding Financial institution (EIB), has up to now not funded the mission, whose principal developer is Italian development agency Webuild.

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However an EIB spokesman advised Reuters this week that the financial institution has now been requested by the European Fee to change into “the most important investor” within the mission.

Rogun is anticipated to price round $8 billion, of which $3 billion have already been spent, the Tajik vitality minister Dalyor Juma advised Reuters in June. Whereas it has been largely financed by Tajik authorities’s bonds and personal loans so far, the federal government in Dushanbe has requested EU monetary and technological assist in finishing the mission, an EU official conversant in the talks mentioned.

The EIB spokesman declined to touch upon the dimensions of the attainable funding and on the explanations for the brand new dedication.

The financial institution has invested in Central Asia about 182 million euros ($186.8 million) between 2014 and 2020, a fraction of its multi-billion-euro investments outdoors the EU’s 27-nation bloc.

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The EU official, who declined to be named as a result of was not approved to talk to media, mentioned a key cause for the EU to change into a high investor within the hydropower dam was to make Tajikistan and its neighbors unbiased from Russian vitality.

The EU is fascinated by pursuing “Central Asia vitality independence from Russia,” the official mentioned.

Brussels and its Western allies have been making an attempt to isolate Russia in response to its February invasion of Ukraine.

The Rogun hydropower plant, with its 335-meter-tall clay core rockfill dam which the builders say will make it the tallest on the earth as soon as accomplished, is anticipated to finish persistent energy shortages in Tajikistan and permit it to export electrical energy to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

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Oil is Tajikistan’s principal import from Russia, whereas Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan import Russian fuel, largely utilizing imported vitality to provide areas nicely interconnected with Russian infrastructure, whilst each are themselves fuel producers.

The funding can be a part of the EU’s “World Gateway” technique, the EU official mentioned. Brussels unveiled the 300 billion euro world infrastructure spending plan in December as a greater, greener various to China’s Belt and Highway Initiative. Beijing launched its plan in 2013 to spice up its commerce hyperlinks with the remainder of the world and Central Asia is among the many areas the place China has since closely invested.

The EIB spokesman mentioned the financial institution was contemplating a joint funding with the European Fee, which controls the EU multi-billion-euro funds and just like the EIB can even increase cash within the markets. The EU govt confirmed that the bloc was open to finance the hydropower Rogun dam mission.

The Tajik authorities had no remark.

It’s unclear when the EU’s plans might flip into precise investments, however the EU official mentioned that selections could possibly be made by the ultimate quarter of this yr. ($1 = 0.9741 euros) (Further reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; writing by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio Modifying by Tomasz Janowski)

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