Uzbekistan is also rich in energy resources, although it was a net importer of fuels and primary energy throughout the Soviet period. The republic was the third largest producer of natural gas in the former Soviet Union behind Russia and Turkmenistan, producing more than 10 percent of the union's natural gas in the 1980s. In 1992 Uzbekistan produced 42.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas; although this output was used mostly within the republic in the Soviet period, pipelines to Tajikistan, Kazakstan, and Russia exported increasing amounts of natural gas to those countries in the early 1990s. Gas reserves are estimated at more than 1 trillion cubic meters. Deposits are concentrated mainly in Qashqadaryo Province in the southeast and near Bukhoro in the south-central region. Bukhoro gas is used to fuel local thermoelectric power plants. The biggest gas deposit, Boyangora-Gadzhak, was discovered in southeastern Surkhondaryo Province in the 1970s.
Uzbekistan also has small coal reserves, located mainly near Angren, east of Tashkent. In 1990 the total coal yield was 6 million tons. Oil production has likewise been small; Uzbekistan has relied on Russia and Kazakstan for most of its supply. Oil production was 3.3 million tons in 1992. But the discovery in 1994 of the Mingbulak oil field in the far northeastern province of Namangan may ultimately dwarf Uzbekistan's other energy resources. Experts have speculated that Mingbulak may prove to be one of the world's most productive oil fields. Located in the central basin of the Fergana Valley, the deposits could produce hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil in the late 1990s. Qoqdumalaq in western Uzbekistan also has rich oil and natural gas deposits, reportedly containing hundreds of millions of tons of oil.
The coal deposits on the Angren River east of Tashkent and the natural gas deposits near Bukhoro are prime fuels for Uzbekistan's thermoelectric power plants. The well-developed hydroelectric power generating system utilizes the Syrdariya, Naryn, and Chirchiq rivers, all of which arise to the east in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Agreements with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, through which the Syrdariya also flows, ensure a continued water flow for Uzbek power plants.
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