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International community observes Georgian-Gazprom negotiations

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, January 22
“We are receiving information about negotiations which took place and which will be held again between the Georgian Government and Gazprom,” said the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Georgia, Janos Herman.

According to him, he has communicated with representatives of the Government and discussed the Gazprom-related issue.

"As for the EU’s concerns, you know that we have our own energy policy, which means that the EU should be united with regards to energy issues.”

“The energy policy includes different goals and one of the goals is diversification. This means that we want to diversify our energy sources. This is what I can say at this stage. It is important that we continue to communicate with the Government on this issue,” said Herman.

About a month ago, Georgia’s Minister of Energy Kakhi Kaladze said that Georgia had a shortage of gas - especially in the winter months - and that the deficit might be filled from the Russian Government-owned Gazprom Company.

The Minister also stated that Georgia might receive money instead of free gas from Russia, which Gazprom grants to Georgia in exchange for gas being transited to Armenia.

Both of the statements were criticised by the parliamentary opposition. They said that receiving more gas from Russia was dangerous from a political point of view, especially when Georgia could fill the deficit from Azerbaijan, its strategic partner. They stressed that Russia has always used its energy as a lever of political influence.

Azerbaijani SOCAR representatives were also in Georgia last week, and stated that their experts would work on how Georgia could be provided with additional gas.

With regards to free supplies of gas from Russia, opposition and civil sector representatives stated that it would not be beneficial for Georgia if the Government took money instead of gas from Russia, as Russia would pay less than required for the purchase for the same volume of gas Georgia currently receives free from the Federation.

Speaking on the Archevani Rustavi 2 TV programme, Energy Minister Kakhi Kaladze stated that it was “Russia’s ultimatum” to pay money instead of giving free gas, otherwise they would seek other providers to transit gas to its ally, Armenia, perhaps through Iran.

Evaluating the statement, Georgian experts highlighted that even this attitude proved Russia’s “untruthful nature” and appealed to the Government to seek any alternatives so as not to deal with Russia over energy supplies.

According to Kaladze, who has already met three times with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller since September 2015, Russia’s share in Georgia’s annual gas supplies may increase from the current figure of 11% to about 20% if Georgia starts importing additional gas from the Russian energy giant.

Georgia consumed over 2.47 billion cubic meters of gas last year 88.5% of which was provided by Azerbaijan, Kaladze said.

Georgia received 200 million cubic meters from Gazprom as a fee for transiting Russian gas to Armenia and also imported 75 million cubic meters of gas from Russia in 2015.