DUSHANBE, February 25, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Fuel prices are continuing to rise in Tajikistan.

According to the data from the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade (MEDT), the price of one liter of 95-octane gasoline in Dushanbe has rise from 4.60 somoni in January to 4.70 somoni (2.2 percent rise).

Specialists attribute the price hike to world market trends as Libya unrest sends crude oil prices soaring again.  Oil prices reportedly jumped to US$112.40 a barrel, which is US$19.00 more than at the beginning of the year.  According to international media outlets, Libya is the world''s 12th largest exporter of crude, accounting for 2 percent of global daily output.  It also has the largest oil reserves in Africa.

Associated Press reported on February 22 that stocks had their worst drop this year and oil prices surged after Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi clung to power in the face of mounting protests.  The capital of the oil-rich country has plunged into chaos.  That is causing to concerns that the unrest that has already toppled dictators in two of Libya''s neighbors, Tunisia and Egypt, could spread to other countries in the region like Iran and disrupt the flow of oil.

Tajik economic expert, Professor Hojimuhammad Umarov, says it cannot be ruled out that oil price may jumped to the record peak of US$145 it reached in July 2008 unless world’s largest oil exporters take any urgent measures.

In the meantime, Russia, which accounts for 93 percent of Tajikistan’s fuel imports, has not yet decided the issue regarding cancellation of light fuel export duty for Tajikistan.  The MEDT source says an average price of oil products delivered from the Russian Federation last year was US$691 per one ton.

We will recall that Russia on May 1 introduced the export duty on light oil for Tajikistan at the rate of 203.7 U.S. dollars per one ton and on June 1, the export duty was raised to 209.1 U.S. dollars.  On December 1, 2010, Russia raised the export duty on light oil to US$226.20.  On February 1, 2011, Russian government’s raised the export duty on light oil to US$232.20 per one ton.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan had been receiving Russian fuel duty free since 1995, in keeping with protocols to the government-to-government agreements on the establishment of a free trade zone within the CIS area.  However, Russian customs started collecting a duty on oil products exported to Kyrgyzstan on April 1 and to Tajikistan on May 1.

In 2010, Tajikistan imported 630,000 tons of oil products (93 percent of them were delivered from Russia) and the remainder from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.  In January 2011, Tajikistan imported 45,000 tons of oil products.