The price of the most sought-after grade of gasoline in Tajikistan increased by nearly half over the past week, Eurasianet reported on March 16.  And even then, it has reportedly become ever more impossible to find.

If AI-92 gasoline cost 6.5 somonis ($0.57) per liter last week in Dushanbe, the price is now 8.1 somonis. In Khorog, the administrative center of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, gasoline sells at 9.30 somonis per liter.

Determining the cause of this price rise is not easy.

The fuel business is reportedly monopolized by Shamsullo Sohibov, son-in-law of President Emomali Rahmon.

Sohibov’s Faroz holding company went into liquidation a couple of years ago, but its network of gas stations is still largely intact.  The way that the gas stations are operating is bound to be part of the explanation.

But the authorities are pointing to the shortfall in supplies due to the country’s key fuel provider suspending exports.

RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, quoted a specialist at the state antimonopoly service, Rajabali Mahsiddinzoda, as saying that Kazakhstan supplies 90 percent of Tajikistan’s fuel and that those exports have been halted since January.

This is borne out by reporting in Kazakh media.  Business newspaper Kursiv notes that power outages at the start of the year led to decommissioning of equipment at its Atyrau refinery.  Authorities there have resolved as a result to focus on building up reserves for the domestic market, the paper reported.

Fuel price rises are a seasonal development too.  The government in Russia, whose fuel market invariably has knock-on effects throughout the region, has similarly reported marginal increases, according to Eurasianet.