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Georgia, Azerbaijan expected to sign gas deal soon

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Thursday, March 20
Azerbaijani state oil company president Rovnag Abdullayev is in Tbilisi this week for talks on a gas deal with Georgia which could end months of speculation over how much gas tariffs will increase for ordinary Georgians.

Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze headed a delegation that visited Baku last week to discuss the issue with government officials.

Tbilisi is hoping to increase its natural gas imports from Azerbaijan to decrease reliance on Russian gas, while Baku wants to up the price Georgia pays for its natural gas.

At the moment Georgia pays USD 235 per thousand cubic meters for Russian gas and USD 120 per thousand cubic meters for Azerbaijani gas.

Tbilisi wants to import 1.5 billion cubic meters from Azerbaijan per year, and is ready to pay up to USD 180190 per thousand cubic meters, according to the newspaper Rezonansi, which would keep the gas tariff for consumers at the current level.

However, Baku has indicated it is only willing to export 500 million cubic meters to Georgia. If Georgia has to continue relying on Russian gas, Rezonansi writes, consumers may be looking at a tariff hike from GEL 0.51 to GEL 0.62 per cubic meter.