A wide range of fossil fuels are found in Kyrgyzstan – coal, peat, gas and oil.
It is estimated that there are something like two and a half billion tons of coal reserves in the country – and annual production is about currently about 300,000 tons a year. Despite the large reserves of coal available, output has, in fact, reduced since independence – partly as a result of falling demand; partly due to the high cost of extraction and partly due to problems of supply of materials and equipment necessary for mining operations.
One of the bigger open cast mines is at Kara Keche on the northern approaches to Lake Son Kul. It is planned to extend the railway from Balykchi to Kara Keche to enable transportation of the coal which will have an important effect on export potential.
There are also deposits of “brown coal” in the South of the country – in the Ferghana valley. In 2006, two new coal fields in Batken were due to open (near the town of Sulukta)..
Oil and Gas:
There are small oil and natural gas deposits in the south of the country. Oil was first discovered as early as 1900 – and there was an operating oil-field as early as 1913, producing about 3000 tons a year – and production continued into the 1960’s, peaking at almost half a million tons.
Currently the reserves are estimated at about 400 million tonnes and about 8 million tonnes are extracted annually. This is not enough, however, to supply the domestic market and much is imported. In 2005, about 400,000 tonnes of oil products are officially, (legally) imported, but it estimated that about 40% of all the oil products in the country are brought into the country illegally, (smuggled over the border), and in some regions it is thought that this contraband actually represents 90% of the market.
The supply of natural gas from Uzbekistan is frequently interrupted over disputes about non-payment of debts and much petroleum and diesel oil is smuggled into the country.