Transit of Russian gas to Armenia to resume fully today

Russian gas deliveries to Armenia via a pipeline passing through the territory of Georgia, which were suspended on Friday due to repair works, will resume to full capacity today.

RFE/RL learned yesterday from Armenia’s national gas distribution company, ArmRosGazprom (ARG), that repair works of the Ghazakh-Sagoramo 1000 millimeter pipeline in the territory of Georgia are nearly complete.

“According to our information the works are nearly complete and according to preliminary data gas deliveries to Armenia will start tonight and resume to full capacity tomorrow morning”, – ARG press officer Shushan Sardarian said on Monday.

ArmRosGazprom specialists taking part in repair works are still in Georgia, Sardarian informed.

The pipeline passing through the Azerbaijani-populated Gardabani district of Georgia is the key source of natural gas supplies to Armenia. Gas is the main source of winter heating for Armenian households and generates roughly one third of the country’s electricity.

Georgia suspended on January 9 the transit of Russian natural gas to Armenia through its territory, citing emergency repairs on the key pipeline which officials in Tbilisi said will take several days.

Georgian Energy Minister Aleksandr Khetaguri was reported to say that a section of that pipeline passing through the Azerbaijani-populated Gardabani district has been seriously damaged by increased gas pressure. He attributed it to a seasonal rise in gas consumption in Armenia.

While repair works are underway gas is supplied to Armenian consumers from underground gas reserves of ArmRosGazprom. The underground gas reserves were also instrumental in avoiding a serious energy crisis in Armenia in January 2006, when gas deliveries were halted for 10 days due to an explosion in southern Russia.

Armenia can now also guard against such emergencies by importing gas from neighboring Iran. The final Armenian section of a gas pipeline connecting the two countries was inaugurated in December.

Unlike Armenia, Georgia imports the bulk of its gas from Azerbaijan, rather than Russia.

(based on original reporting by Ruben Meloyan and Emil Danielyan, photo by Photolur)

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