February 26, 2014 - 18:15 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian parliament voted to form an ad hoc committee for gas issues by vote of 75 in favor to 3 against, with 30 abstentions.
The proposal to initiate the committee was advanced by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its junior coalition partner Orinats Yerkir. Initially, the coalition forces turned down similar motion by non-governing forces, citing small range of issues to justify the creation of the committee.
However, as the chair of the standing committee on state and legal affairs Davit Harutyunyan noted Wednesday, Feb 26, the parliamentary majority objected the approach featured in the previous proposal, planning to enlarge the range of issues to be tackled by the committee.
The following issues will be included on agenda: sale of ArmRosGazprom shares, calorific value of the Russia-supplied gas, investigation of the calorific value loss claims, legality of the gas debt, alternative options for gas supply, possibility for Armenia to serve as a transit state in gas supplies, formation of gas tariffs, Armenian media reported.
As the previous reports said, an Economy Ministry-headed committee will be put in charge of verifying calorific value of the natural gas supplied to Armenia.
As Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan told a Feb 20 governmental sitting, despite the already provided clarifications on the issue, doubts over the adequate calorific value of the gas still remain, and the population needs to get answers.
As the chair of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC) Robert Nazaryan further noted, a suggestion was made to set up a laboratory for accessing the quality of gas, yet the initiative was not yet put into action.
He further noted that complaints over excessive consumption of gas might be caused by the necessity to use more of it during a cold winter rather than the sub-standard quality.
In this context, he offered to create an Economy Ministry-headed group to include representatives of the National Academy of Sciences, Public Council and the Union of Entrepreneurs to work towards boosting the population’s trust.
As Prime Minister Sargsyan noted in conclusion, earlier, experts issued an opinion letter suggesting it’s impossible to artificially alter the calorific value of the gas.
Earlier, Gazprom Armenia spurned critics’ allegations about a reduced calorific value of its gas. Company spokesperson Shushan Sardaryan said the calorific value of the gas is checked every day in Georgia and Armenia. She slammed suggestions that methane is mixed with nitrogen as ‘fiction’.
12 bilateral agreements were singed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Armenia, in late 2013, including a deal on forming the price for Russian gas supplies to Armenia and transfer of the remaining 20% of the ArmRosGazprom CJSC authorized capital to Russia’s RosGazprom.
The deals inked also covered cooperation in nuclear security provision and supply of annual 2,5 billion cubic meters of gas in 2014-2018. As Putin noted in this context, the Russia-supplied gas will be priced at $189 per 1000 cubic meters, with Moscow to offer a number of discounts before Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union, including cancellation of a 30% export duty for oil and oil products.