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Gas Supply Reduced from Azerbaijan, as Pipe Restoration Delayed in Russia
/ 25 Jan.'06 / 23:31
Civil Georgia

Gas was cut off to several more districts in capital Tbilisi after gas supply was reduced from 2,5 to 2 million cubic meters per day from Azerbaijan on January 25.

Before this most recent decrease only 40% of Tbilisi consumers were supplied with gas.

“Georgia now receives about 1,9-2 million cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan… As a result gas supply was cut to Tskneta, Bagebi and part of Mtatsminda districts of Tbilisi… But we can still maintain gas supply to the 9th power generator, which enables to avoid problems with electricity supply,” Georgian Deputy Energy Minister Aleko Khetaguri told Imedi television late on Wednesday.

Gas supply is already completely cut to the regions of the country after two pipelines were blown up in Russia’s North Ossetian Republic on January 22.

“Decrease of gas supply is caused by the fact that Azerbaijan itself experiences gas shortage, but our Azeri colleagues are doing their best and we should only thank to Azerbaijan for this help,” Aleko Khetaguri said.

He also said that Energy Minister Nika Gilauri is currently visiting Baku to negotiate with the Azeri authorities possible increase of gas supply.

Georgia started receiving 3 million cubic meters of Russian gas via Azerbaijan after two gas pipelines were blown up in North Caucasus.

This amount of gas was decreased to 2,5 million cubic meters on January 24 after damage of gas compressor station on the Russian side of the Russo-Azeri border, which has further worsened energy crisis in Georgia.

Meanwhile, it still remains unclear when exactly Russia will be able to restore gas supply to Georgia.

Russian NTV television reported on January 25 that restoration will take longer than expected after workers have found additional damages on the main pipeline in North Ossetia.

“Hence we have decided to replace additional 9,5 meters of pipeline,” Igor Tkachenko, deputy chief executive of the Gazprom’s subsidiary KavkazTransGaz, said, adding that it is not clear how long it will take.

Georgian leadership has already complained about uncertainty which surrounds date of possible resumption of gas supply from Russia.

“Initially they [the Russian side] told us that the gas pipeline would be restored yesterday [on January 24]; now they say that they may fail to restore it for a certain period,” Saakashvili said.
 
“We offered Russia to allow our specialists to the site, so that to help them to restore this gas pipeline more quickly. But our experts were not allowed to be present during the rehabilitation works,” the President added.
 
News broke on January 25 that the gas supply was cut to the high mountainous Kazbegi district in north of Tbilisi. The Kazbegi district was the only remaining provincial district of Georgia receiving the gas which was still remaining in the system.

Officials said that several tones of diesel fuel were sent to the region, where daytime temperature hit -20C.

Meanwhile, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office has re-qualified explosion of gas pipes as “terrorist act” on January 25, Interfax news agency reported. Initially Russian prosecutor’s brought criminal charges for “deliberate damage of property.”

Nikolai Shepel, the Russia’s deputy chief prosecutor, said that damage caused by explosion of pipelines totals to at least 30 million Rubles (approximately USD 1 million).

He also said that investigators think blasts “aimed at worsening relations between Russia and Georgia.”

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