Uzbekistan has issued a fresh call for foreigners with an energy industry background to join the supervisory board of its state oil and gas player, which is struggling to comply with government orders to transform into a more modern entity.

Compiling a list of candidates is essential for Uzbekneftegaz to demonstrate to top governmental officials that it is not procrastinating in fulfilling orders from the state to adapt to international market conditions.

According to a decree, signed in October by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekneftegaz has to form a new advisory board by 1 July, where “at least 30% of seats are taken by qualified international specialists”.

The company posted a notice on its website seeking applications, after earlier this month calling for applicants through notices in local newspapers in the capital Tashkent.

The deadline for submitting applications is 1 April.

Additionally, the president has obliged Uzbekneftegaz to appoint another three expatriates with international oil and gas experience into its managing board.

Authorities in Tashkent had been successful in the initial reform of the heavily state-regulated oil and gas industry between 2017 and 2019, splitting Uzbekneftegaz and gas pipeline operator Uztransgaz into separate entities, as well as opening exploration and development opportunities for international investors and major Russian oil and gas producers, including Gazprom.

However, reforms in the domestic oil and gas industry were put on hold last year as Uzbekistan battled with a significant economic downturn, caused by Covid-19-related restrictions, with its gas production falling sharply as deliveries to neighbouring China waned.

Uzbekneftegaz said authorities would eventually like to see the company becoming attractive to international investors.

The government is devising a plan to reduce its 100% shareholding in the producer by selling some of its shares on international stock exchanges before the end of 2024.