Georgia can replace Russian gas with gas from Azerbaijan (exclusive)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 14

By Elena Kosolapova - Trend:

Georgia is considering the possibility to replace the Russian gas with the gas from Azerbaijan, said Georgian Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili in an exclusive interview with Trend Jan. 14.

She said this issue is being discussed at the negotiations with Azerbaijan's State Oil Company (SOCAR) and Russia's Gazprom.

Azerbaijan is the main supplier of gas to Georgia. Russian gas deliveries to Georgia are carried out only in the form of payment for its transit to Armenia, for which the country is supplied with 10 percent of total shipments.

Gazprom supplied 300 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas to Georgia in 2014.

Currently, Georgia is discussing with Gazprom the possibility for the Russian side to pay for gas transit to Armenia in money, said Valishvili.

The amount that Russia has to pay for transit in 2016 is being discussed particularly.

Valishvili said that the negotiations on the terms of gas transit to Armenia are held annually as the contract is concluded for one year.

"Those 10 percent of the gas that Georgia has previously received from Russia, are planned to be replaced with supplies from Azerbaijan as far as possible," she said.

"This possibility has been discussed during the negotiations with SOCAR this week," she said. "But the experts must examine the technical preparedness of the existing pipelines from Azerbaijan to Georgia for increasing the supplies in the required volumes."

She also said that Georgia's gas needs are growing every year.

"It will be impossible to completely replace the Russian gas, which is being received as the payment for transit, with Azerbaijani gas," she said. "Georgia can compensate the remaining volumes through the direct supplies from Russia. The possibility of such supplies was also discussed at the talks with Gazprom, but the prices offered by the Russian side are quite high."

Valishvili also said that currently there is no infrastructure for gas supplies from any third country.

"In the long-term, Georgia is interested in gas supplies from Iran, but this issue is not on the agenda in the near-term, and no talks with Tehran are underway on this issue," she added.

The deputy minister also said that technical specifications of the already available gas infrastructure, as well as the possibility of Azerbaijan's participation in the construction of new facilities of this infrastructure in Georgia, were discussed during the talks with SOCAR.

The issue of cost of the Azerbaijani gas delivered to Georgia was not discussed, she added.

At the same time, Valishvili stressed that Azerbaijan sells gas to Georgia at a very competitive and favorable price.

The deputy minister said that no agreements with Gazprom and SOCAR have been reached yet.

---

Follow the author on Twitter: @E_Kosolapova

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