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Gazprom takes unhealthy interest in Georgian gas distribution system

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, April 8
Some days ago Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom expressed its readiness and willingness to participate in the rehabilitation of Georgia’s main gas distribution network. The Russian side explained its interest by its concern over the supply routes to its strategic partner Armenia. Armenia receives Russian gas via Georgia.

Some Georgian analysts think that this move signifies that Russia is trying to take over the Georgian gas distribution system, as it has long sought to. During the Shevardnadze regime Russia’s efforts were thwarted, but Ex Minister of Economy Bendukidze was almost prepared to sell this system to Russia. Only after direct interference by the US administration was this idea rejected. The US subsequently allotted USD 62.5 million dollars for rehabilitating the Georgian gas distribution network, presumably to make selling it to Russia unnecessary.

Georgian economic analysts suppose that Russia’s intentions are deeper than just trying to help Armenia. It wants to connect its pipeline to Armenia with the new pipeline from Armenia to Iran, and thereby make it possible to transport Iranian gas to Europe through Russia, states Davit Eliashvili, an expert in energy issues. Analysts don’t exclude that Russia is prepared to use other methods to achieve its goal.