Kazakhstan Minister of Energy says the country plans to fully support its domestic market with jet fuel by the second half of 2018. The statement in the midst the fuel shortage crisis in the country and the warning by the flag carrier Air Astana, which intended to reduce the regular flight frequency due to the lack of fuel supply.

“We expect that in the second half of 2018, we will fully supply the domestic market with aviation fuel, and we will be able to control its cost and regulate it,” said Kanat Bozumbayev Kazakh Minister of Energy on November 15, 2017, as quoted by Astana Times.

The assurance on the upcoming aviation fuel supply comes as the country is experiencing yet another deficit of gasoline and a sharp increase in fuel prices since September 2017. Ironically, fuel shortage is a re-occurring phenomenon in Kazakhstan – the second largest oil producer and exporter among the post-Soviet countries, preceded only by Russia.

The Minister of Energy blames the shortage on the declining aviation sector, which saw European carriers like British Airways or Austrian Airways leave in 2016. “The problem is not a shortage of passengers: they had flights. It happened because they did not have incomes, because the fuel costs were twice as high as in Europe”, said Bozumbayev (quoted by Astana Times.)

Currently, only one refinery in the country produces aviation fuel. The Shymkent refinery’s capacity meets approximately 30% of the Kazakhstan’s yearly demand in aviation sector, with the rest being imported from Russia and Europe. Now, the country expects three other refineries to begin producing jet fuel in 2018.