January 5, 2016 - 11:49 AMT
Georgia mulls importing Iranian gas through Armenia

Georgia has been negotiating with Iran on possible imports of Iranian natural gas through neighboring Armenia, the head of the Islamic Republic’s national gas company said on Monday, January 4, RFE/RL Armenian Service reports.

“Based on our negotiations, we are supposed to transport gas to the Armenian border for Georgia to receive it on its own border with Armenia,” Iran’s IRNA news agency quoted Alireza Kameli as saying.

Kameli did not specify whether Tehran, Tbilisi and Yerevan have already reached an agreement and, if so, when the Iranian gas supplies will start. He only said that the gas deal must be “economical” for Georgia to start all the process.

Armenia imports up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually through a pipeline that was launched in 2008. The pipeline’s maximum capacity is estimated at 2 billion cubic meters per annum.

Georgia has purchased the bulk of its gas from Azerbaijan for the past decade, with the government in October announcing its intention to buy gas from Russia or Iran too. Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze said Georgia could soon import Iranian gas via Armenia or Azerbaijan.

Last month, Kaladze held talks in Luxemburg with Alexei Miller, the head of Russia’s Gazprom monopoly. Miller said afterwards that Gazprom is ready to supply large volumes of gas to Georgia through a complex arrangement that would also involve Armenia and Iran.

Later in December, Kaladze met in Yerevan with his Armenian and Iranian counterparts as well as the chief executive of a leading Russian electric utility to explore the possibility of significantly boosting power supplies with the countries. Armenia’s Yervand Zakharyan said after the meeting that gas supplies to Georgia were not on the agenda.