EU plans investment in world’s tallest dam to dent Russia’s energy clout

The European Union plans to become the top investor in the world’s tallest dam in Tajikistan, EU officials told Reuters, in a move aimed at helping Central Asia cut its reliance on Russian energy and part of EU’s answer to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Tajikistan began in 2016 the construction of the giant hydropower Rogun plant, which could deliver full energy independence to the landlocked former Soviet Union nation.

The EU’s investment arm, the European Investment Bank (EIB), has so far not funded the project, whose main developer is Italian construction firm Webuild WBD.MI.

But an EIB spokesman told Reuters this week that the bank has now been asked by the European Commission to become “the largest investor” in the project.

Rogun is expected to cost around $8 billion, of which $3 billion have already been spent, the Tajik energy minister Dalyor Juma told Reuters in June. While it has been largely financed by Tajik government’s bonds and private loans up to now, the government in Dushanbe has requested EU financial and technological support in completing the project, an EU official familiar with the talks said.

The EIB spokesman declined to comment on the size of the possible investment and on the reasons for the new commitment.

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