Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's starting to look up...I think!?

Good news! The extremely cold weather is finally starting to let up! Starting Tuesday the sun began to fight its way through the clouds, and I’m happy to announce that today was the first sunny day in a looong time! I could actually see the mountains again… I was starting to think they were only a figment of my imagination in the past. Along with the sunshine, temperatures have started to rise; the daily forecast for the near future is between 0C and -8C. This brings many a huge sigh of relief as things have been getting quite tense here.

The extreme rationing of electricity has caused many people to live in their winter layers day and night, and has also been the cause of hundreds of deaths, from newborns to the elderly and homeless. Predictions that were made public earlier this week was that the country may very soon be declaring a state of emergency as the electricity supply is only expected to last until February 8th.

With this news some organizations have evacuated their staff to other countries for the next couple months; other organizations are shortening their business hours to conserve energy. At work we are stocking up on water, coal, and fuel for the generator just to be prepared (and expats have an evacuation plan, so don’t worry about us!). Many restaurants have closed, including the cafĂ© that is part of the complex that I live in.

The government has tried to talk with surrounding countries to lend us some electricity; however talks have not been very successful as they have also experienced a higher then normal rate of consumption with this unusually cold weather. The deadline of a country wide blackout is quickly approaching, and predictions were that there would be no relief until March when the waters that feed the dam that generates electricity is back up and running to a normal capacity as the water melts.

If the country was to face a national black out, that would mean there would be no water as well because the pumps would not be working to keep the water flowing. With no power, no water, and only limited access to gas, people are scared of how they will survive. They are also scared that such conditions may cause uprisings; I even heard some discussing that this could possibly cause another civil war; even though the scars of the last civil war are still not completely healed.

As tensions rose with thoughts of the near future, the weather finally started to turn. I hope that the March thaw they were waiting for came early, and February will bring enough warm temperatures to keep the electricity flowing. Here is the latest news-

Water Inflow Increases in Nukek –

In the Nurek (Narak) Dam the inflow of water has increased almost twice-fold, but as Asia Plus agency quotes Barq-i Tajik energy holding officials, the danger of plunging into a total darkness is still hovering over Tajikistan. The volume of the inflow has marked a rapid gain since 18 to 90 cubic meters per second recorded before Wednesday (30 January). Yesterday it was around 160 cm/s. Though the usual inflow in past Januaries used to be 200 cm/s, credit must be given to the current milder weather in the country for facilitating the water inflow process.

However, Tajik energy officials do not rush to gladden the population, but rather reiterate the possibility of facing a more serious energy crisis in the near future. Since according to them, even the present generous water inflow will not result in any substantial changes in the station’s activity and will not increase energy production.

The Asia-Plus source in the company believes that the water in the reservoir has almost completely sunk down and further 6-meter drop of the current level will mark the critical stage of the station. At that stage the station will be able to produce not more than 25 m kw/h a day, while now it is capable of providing the country with around 40 m kw/h a day.

So far Tajikistan’s request for assistance has yielded 11 m kw/h of power from Kyrgyzstan - that reportedly is being transmitted to northern districts of Tajikistan – and a phone promise by the Turkmen president to increase the volume of his country’s energy export to Tajikistan.

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