Georgia should settle energy issues in partnership with Azerbaijan

Georgia should settle energy issues in partnership with Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 2

By Elena Kosolapova – Trend:

Georgia should settle energy issues in partnership with Azerbaijan, a country it has traditionally friendly relations with, Georgian expert, chairman of the Institute for the Study of Georgia’s Development Gia Khukhashvili told Trend.

He was commenting on the information which appeared in the Iranian media outlets regarding signing of a contract for the supply of Iranian gas to Georgia via Armenia.

Azerbaijan and Georgia need to act in tandem in such matters and not make steps which may be contrary to the two countries’ interests, he said.

While Iran had an opportunity to supply its gas to Georgia through Azerbaijan, it chose Armenia.

Iran signed a deal with the Georgian International Energy Corporation to export gas to the country within a four-month period, Alireza Kameli, managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), said earlier.

Almost 40 million cubic meters of gas will be sold to the company under the test agreement, Kameli said, the Iranian oil ministry’s SHANA news agency reported July 31.

Georgian Deputy Energy Minister Mariam Valishvili earlier told Trend that Georgian government hasn’t concluded an agreement with Iran on gas supply and has no information on the conclusion of such contracts with private companies operating in Georgia.

“If there is any activity regarding the supply from Iran, I would prefer to cooperate with Azerbaijan,” said Khukhashvili. “There have never been problems with Azerbaijan and the system of gas supply from Azerbaijan to Georgia has no political risks.”

As for gas supply from Iran to Georgia through Armenia, the expert said that there is no transit infrastructure from Iran to Georgia and there is only a local pipe running from Iran and Armenia with a diameter of 700 millimeters. He said that most likely, it is about swap contracts, that’s to say, a contract is signed with Iran, but real gas will be delivered to Georgia from Russia in accordance with some Russian-Iranian mutual settlements.

Khukhashvili noted that it is theoretically possible to lay a transit pipe from Iran to Georgia, but since Armenia’s gas pipelines system is controlled by to Russian Gazprom, Armenia’s participation in such projects is tantamount to Russian participation.

The expert said that the transportation route of Iranian gas through Armenia won’t also be interesting for the West, as this route includes Russia’s participation, while the West is trying to find ways gas supply that bypass Russia.

“Given the fact that gas is not only a product, but also a tool in politics, Europe as the final consumer will be more favorable towards those projects, which will bypass Russia’s interests,” noted Khukhashvili. “This route may be the transit of Iranian gas through Azerbaijan and Georgia.”

The expert added that the breach of SOCAR’s monopoly on the Georgian market that some commercial structures are trying to achieve, is likely to prejudice the Georgian government in the medium-term and long-term prospect.

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