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Deal with Iran to Partially Ease Gas Shortage
/ 28 Jan.'06 / 15:47
Giorgi Sepashvili, Tea Gularidze, Civil Georgia

Efforts are underway on Azeri-Iran pipeline to make technically possible flow of 2 million cubic meters of Iranian gas to Georgia per day, President of Georgian International Gas Corporation Davit Ingorokva said on Saturday.

Ingorokva, who visits Azerbaijan, told Civil Georgia via phone, that gas supply from Iran will start “supposedly on January 29, or no later than January 30.”

Gas supply deal between Georgia and Iran was reached on January 27, but details of the agreement, including the price remain unknown.

The President of Georgian International Gas Corporation declined to specify price which Georgia will pay for Iranian gas and reiterated earlier statements by other officials that “the price is symbolic.”

Speaking at an emergency session of the cabinet on January 27 President Saakashvili denied media reports that Iranian gas will cost USD 120, which is USD 10 more than the Russian gas price. Saakashvili said that Georgia will import Iranian gas in “a favorable price.”

Saakashvili described gas deal with Iran as “an important breakthrough” in Georgia’s efforts to find emergency alternative gas supply sources.

“We are creating mechanisms in order to receive gas in this [alternative] way in case similar restrictions [in gas supplies] or similar breakdowns [of pipelines] occur,” Saakashvili said.

“I think this is a very important breakthrough. And it should be understood in Russia as well that we now have an alternative,” he added.

The President of Georgian International Gas Corporation Davit Ingorokva did not rule out that Iranian gas might continue to flow into Georgia even after Russia restores blown up pipelines in North Ossetia.

Russian news agencies reported on January 28 quoting representatives from the Gazprom’s subsidiary gas transportation company KavkazTransGaz that restoration works of the blown up pipelines “have moved into a final phase.”

Iranian gas will be imported in Georgia via Azerbaijan through the Georgian-Azeri gas pipeline, which was restored last year.

“Currently Georgia receives 2-2,5 million cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan. Additional 2 million cubic meters will flow through this [Georgian-Azeri] pipeline after Iran starts gas supply,” Davit Ingorokva told Civil Georgia, adding that this amount of gas totaling to 4-4,5 million cubic meters per day will be enough for consumers in Tbilisi.

Experts say that 4 million cubic meters of gas per day is the maximum the Azeri-Georgian gas pipeline, can deal with.

“This pipeline has not been in operation for a very long time already and if it operates on its full capacity, which is shipment of 4 million cubic meters per day, risk of technical flaws on the pipe will increase,” Temur Gochitashvili, an energy analyst, told Civil Georgia.

Even some Georgian officials warned earlier that the Azeri-Georgian gas pipeline could not operate at its full capacity because of “technical conditions.”

“This pipe has not been in operation for a long time and some technical flaws might occur,” Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Chechelashvili said on January 22.

Total of 4 million cubic meters of gas per day is required for Tbilisi consumers, plus for operation of 9th and 4th power generators. Entire Georgia, including Tbilisi, needs at least 7 million cubic meters per day.

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