BISHKEK (TCA) â€” On February 18, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Jantoro Satybaldiev temporarily suspended the activities of the refinery built by China Petrol Company Junda in the city of Kara-Balta in northern Kyrgyzstan, informed the Government's press office.
The decision will be valid until all contentious issues related to the refinery are solved. A Governmental Commission headed by the Vice-Prime Minister Tayirbek Sarpashev was tasked to investigate the situation.
However, at a press conference held the same day, representatives of the Ministry of Economy presented another reason for the suspension of the refineryâ€™s operation. According to the ministry, the refinery has started operating since January 17, 2014 in a test mode. To adjust the process parameters of the refinery equipment, it was necessary to carry out a test run resulting in a bad smell and smoke in the village around the plant. On January 27, the plant stopped operating to troubleshoot and control its units.
On January 24, the Economy Minister Temir Sariyev discussed the situation with representatives of the Chui State Administration, Kara-Balta Municipality, and representatives of the refinery. Employees of the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry and the State Inspectorate for Environmental and Technical Safety said that the conducted examination of soil, water and air contamination complied with standards.
The Government decided to conduct additional check of refinery by relevant authorities.
The China Petrol Company Junda has concluded contracts with 15 landowners on a total area of 20.37 hectares and has already begun to pay compensation to the residents for land at the rate of 20,000 soms per one hectare per year (for five years). After compensation, the land will remain with its owners, and land owners may optionally grow industrial crops there, as only industrial crops are allowed in the buffer zone of the refinery.
The refinery construction was launched in September 2009, with the involvement of Chinese investment worth about $300 million. After the completion, the refinery will be able to process 800,000 tons of crude oil to produce about 750,000 tons of finished products - gasoline, winter and summer diesel fuel, lubricants, gear oil, and liquefied gas. With the stable operation, the refinery can produce finished goods worth $670 million.
According to the Government's press office, Junda will provide Kyrgyzstanâ€™s market with high-quality Euro-3 standard fuel, and that will resolve the dependence of the country on the external fuel supply which currently is more than 60%. The company will pay more than 5 billion soms in taxes to the state budget. Contributions to the Social Fund, land tax and property tax will be directed to the local budgets. Junda will create more than 1,000 jobs.
At the Parliament meeting on February 18, Minister Sariev introduced his version of the refinery stoppage. According to him, Junda suspended its operation due to the Chinese New Year. The plant was launched on January 17, and the same day it released its first products, but on January 27 it suspended operation because it was necessary to check products for compliance with the state standards, he said. In addition, the Chinese New Year began. In this regard, the Chinese managers suspended the refinery, he concluded.
Meanwhile, back in January Kara-Balta residents complained about the negative impact of refinery emissions on the environment and human health. They held protest rallies, demanding closure of the plant. Officials explained that running a refinery is a very complex process. So, initially for a few days of commissioning works there will be noise, hum and release of residual gases through flare.
According to officials, there is only a warehouse of raw materials and finished products in the city of Kara-Balta, and in particular, in its East Industrial Zone (EIZ).The production site is located along the Bishkek-Osh highway. A pillar of fire removes the remnants of industrial gases, and only monoxide and carbon dioxide are emitted during the combustion. However, the EIZ residents continue to complain of smoke, noise and fetid gas.
According to the Energy Ministry, Junda has developed a plan to reduce the harmful effects of noise, vibration and emissions. Landscaping will be carried out, which will contribute to shielding and absorption of noise and harmful substances.
To resume the refineryâ€™s operation, it is necessary to resolve the problem with the Government, local authorities and population.