Blackout Worsens Energy Crisis
/ 26 Jan.'06 / 21:17
Civil Georgia

Electricity supply was resumed to several district in capital Tbilisi after Georgia started import of electricity from Azerbaijan and one of the power generators was put into operation.

But this is hardly enough to supply power to all the households of the capital city, while other parts of eastern Georgia still remain without electricity.

Half of Georgia was blacked out early on January 26 after heavy snowfall damaged high-voltage power line “Imereti” in western Georgia, officials said.

Combined with gas cut, electricity shortage has further worsened energy crisis, which prompted President Saakashvili to halt his visit to Davos, Switzerland and return back to Tbilisi.

A day before Georgian Energy Minister Nika Gilauri warned that the country’s energy system was operating “without any reserve resources of electricity” after the "Kavkasioni" high-voltage power line was blown-up in Russia’s North Caucasus region on January 22 and even a minor problem or damaged power line could have caused black outs.

Those left without both electricity and gas had to switch on kerosene heaters to deal with the cold winter.

But kerosene fuel is already a deficit in the capital. Many Tbilisites also complained that the kerosene fuel price has doubled reaching - GEL 2.2 (USD 1.38) per liter - after an energy crisis broke out following explosions at two gas pipelines in Russia’s North Ossetian Republic.

The government announced that it will closely monitor markets to prevent a price hike on fuel.

Later on January 26 Chief of President’s Administration Giorgi Arveladze announced that the government could import additional 310 tones of kerosene fuel to fill the deficit.

Some residents of Tbilisi have already rushed to buy wood stoves.

“My husband has already bought wood stove. There is no other way; I can’t leave my child in freezing apartment,” Tbilisite Khatuna said.

It is not yet clear when it will be possible to restore the damaged "Imereti" power line.

The Russia’s electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems reported on January 26 that the “Kavkasioni” power line in the North Caucasus will only be restored in nine days.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli described the crisis in Georgia as an “energy blockade.”

“Unfortunately, the energy blockade continues. We should be consolidated in order to overcome the current energy crisis,” PM Nogaideli said at a news conference.
 
The Prime Minister denied that Russia’s Gazprom is supplying Azerbaijan with extra gas in order to direct it towards Georgia via the Azeri-Georgian gas pipeline.

“Official statements made by Gazprom that 3 million cubic meters of gas per day is being delivered to Azerbaijan so that the latter could increase the gas delivery to Georgia are not true,” PM Nogaideli said. 

“Azerbaijan receives the amount of gas from Russia which is only enough for Azerbaijani’s consumption. But despite this, Azerbaijan has maintained a supply of 2.5 million cubic meters of gas to Georgia, which is of vital importance to us,” he added.

“So Gazprom should either stop making statements that it is supplying gas to Azerbaijan for Georgia, or, if possible, it really should increase the gas supply to Azerbaijan so that we could receive more gas,” Nogaideli said.
 
After visiting Baku Georgian Energy Minister Nika Gilauri headed to Iran on January 26 to negotiate possibility of gas supply. This is Gilauri’s second visit to Iran in past one week.

The Georgian Prime Minister also complained about the rehabilitation process of the damaged gas pipelines in Russia’s North Ossetian Republic.

“We see that restoration of gas pipelines are being delayed… During one day we are receiving several conflicting and contradicting reports from Russia about the restoration works; but the reality is that the restoration is delayed, so we have serious questions and complaints towards Gazprom's leadership,” PM Nogaideli said.

But news broke later on January 26 that restoration will be finished in few days.

Vasil Maglaperidze, the Governor of Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, which borders with Russia, said after talks with the representatives of the Russian gas transportation company KavkazTransGaz, that gas supply from Russia “will probably be restored by Saturday, or no later than Sunday.”

“This is what the Russian side claims,” he added.

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