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Deputy Energy Minister: “Energy dependence is not reasonable”

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, January 8
Deputy Minister of Energy Ilia Eloshvili says that if gas is exported from Iran, Georgia will have financial liabilities towards Gazprom, Russian Gas provider, because the gas import from Iran is only possible through Armenia, where a pipeline is owned by Gazprom’s daughter company.

According to the Deputy Minister, the country has three sources of energy supplies - Azerbaijan, Russia and Iran - and it should choose the most appropriate one. He said both the economic and political situations will be taken into account before making the final decision.

“The pipeline in Armenia is owned by Gazprom’s daughter company and therefore the infrastructure belongs to them. If we receive gas from Iran, we will have to pay a transit fee to Gazprom. We must have open negotiations with all three countries and act in the best interests of our country. We should not be dependent on one source. Energy dependence is not reasonable,” stated Eloshvili.

The Ministry of Energy confirms having held talks with Iran over possible gas supplies via Armenia but said no agreement has yet been reached.

“It should be noted that Iran is one of the largest gas producers in the world and, naturally, negotiations will continue with all the potential gas suppliers in the region for the purpose of securing long-term stable and uninterrupted gas supplies to Georgia,” the statement released by the Ministry reads.

The chief executive of SOCAR, the Azerbaijani state energy company, Mahir Mammadov, said that Iranian gas can hardly compete with Azerbaijani supplies on Georgia’s “very small market”. He said that Azerbaijan has a long-term agreement with Georgia on supplies of gas to households with term of up until 2025. He said that SOCAR is also supplying gas to commercial entities in Georgia for a reasonable price.

The opposition does not approve of importing Iranian gas to Georgia. Members of the United National Movement (UNM) say that Russian, and not Iranian, gas will flow to Georgia.

“The government wants to show that they are not buying Russian gas; in fact they are going to import Russian gas bought in Iran,” UNM member Mikheil Machavariani said.

According to the Head of the Foreign Department of the Georgian Development Fund, Giorgi Rukhadze, the issue is more political than commercial.

“Georgia should make a choice - to be an important member of the East and West energy corridor or promote the energy direction of the south-north, which is in the interest of Russia and Gazprom,” noted Rukhadze.