Georgia’s negotiations with the Russian energy giant Gazprom may lead to increases of Russian natural gas deliveries to the former Soviet republic to 20 percent, Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze said.
Georgia imports the majority of its gas from neighboring Azerbaijan. Although Tbilisi has not acquired gas from Russia since 2007, it gets 12 percent of Russian gas as a transit fee to Armenia.
“If an agreement can be reached, we would be able to receive additional volumes of up to 20 percent when our country needs it. Of course, this is a temporary one-year agreement,” Kaladze told the Rustavi 2 television channel late Tuesday.
He said the previous agreement with Gazprom expired on December 31.
Kaladze cited the “technical inability” on the part of Azeri pipelines to increase supplies as the reason for ongoing talks, whose next round is scheduled in Vienna on Wednesday.
The minister said Georgia “makes every effort” to maintain its transit status in light of Russia’s request to compensate the country monetarily for gas deliveries to Armenia in the latest talks.
Should the country lose its transit status, Kaladze said power lines would need to be stopped.
“We would have to purchase additional electricity from Russia, which would require even greater spending and affect rates, so our citizens would have to pay more.”
Talks between the two countries were first held last October.
National experts and the opposition criticize the possible partnership as a precursor to the loss of Georgia’s energy independence.