Turan.az-Azerbaijan refuses to participate in political and economic projects with the participation of Armenia, even if other states are involved in projects besides these two countries. There is one exception – the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Baku refused to participate in negotiations on the creation of the North-South energy corridor (Iran-Armenia-Russia). However, Azerbaijan is actively cooperating with Iran and Russia in the electric power industry, and these countries are connected to Armenia by operating energy corridors, buying and selling electricity. On August 12, Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran signed an agreement on the joint development of a feasibility study for a project to connect the energy systems of the three countries during the year. Consequently, Azerbaijan will become part of the regional electricity network, in which Armenia, which is the energy partner of Iran and Russia, indirectly participates.
Iran appears to be the initiator and the most interested party in the development of a regional interstate energy network. Iran intends to expand its energy contacts, trying to turn into a regional center for the production and supply of electricity. In January 2018, Iran”s Deputy Minister of Energy Alireza Daemi announced that Tehran was considering plans to intensify energy exchanges with neighboring states. Currently, Iran is exporting 1,400 MW of electricity to Iraq. It intends to expand its meager energy exports to cover all neighboring countries. Even those with which Iran has no common border. Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanyan said that during negotiations with his Azerbaijani counterpart, the possibilities of such energy cooperation between Iran and Turkey using the territory of Azerbaijan were discussed.
Iran intends to expand its energy contacts, trying to turn into a regional center for the production and supply of electricity. Alireza Daemi said, “The current electricity network and the exchange of electricity allow Iran to connect to Georgia through the Armenian energy system, as well as enter Slovenia and Europe through Turkey.” In April, Davud Manzur, Deputy Executive Director of the Company for the Production, Distribution and Transmission of Electricity of Iran, emphasized the need to prepare the ground for electricity export to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The northern, that is, the Russian direction remains important and unrealized for Iran. Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanyan stated that negotiations are underway between the Islamic Republic and Armenia on the possibility of exporting electricity to Russia. Energy communications between Iran and Russia through Azerbaijan have been discussed since 2005. In April 2018, a meeting of deputy energy ministers of the three countries was held in Baku, following which it was decided to create a tripartite working group on the issue of connecting energy systems. The result of the work of this group was the recent decision to develop a trilateral feasibility study. If this plan comes true, Iran will become a regional center for the production and supply of electricity in all politically possible geographical areas.
In December 2017, Tehran and Yerevan agreed to expand the “electricity for gas” program, which has been in force since 2009. Within its framework, up to 400 million cubic meters are supplied to Armenia meter of gas per year. Since November 2012, with the participation of Iranian investments, the construction of the Meghrinsk Hydroelectric Power Station on the Araks River, on the border with Iran, has been underway in Armenia with the participation of Iranian investments in order to increase Iranian-Armenian energy transit. A hydroelectric power station must generate 793 million kw/h of electricity annually. This power plant is important in that it is part of a cascade of two hydroelectric power stations. The second hydroelectric power station – Karachilarskaya – is being built in Iran. However, builders once again in February 2018 postponed the opening of a hydroelectric station in Meghri, citing manufacturing and financial problems.
Another infrastructural objective is to increase cross-border high-voltage power lines (transmission lines). With the participation of Iranian capital have been built: a 2.6 MW Lori wind generator (wind farm, wind turbine), an interstate overhead power transmission line (OHL) of 20 kV Agarak-Ninuire, and an overhead power line of 400 kV, an internal two-line 400 kV overhead line from Agarak to Hrazdan thermal power station, as well as the section of the Meghri-Kajaran gas pipeline (part of the Iran-Armenia pipeline) in order to increase gas supplies for the thermal power plants under construction. The construction of the third Iran-Armenia high-voltage power line is to be commissioned in 2018. Its launch will significantly increase the flow of electricity between Iran and Armenia, as well as with Georgia and Russia.
Since Armenia and Iran do not have common borders with Russia, it is necessary to develop the regional electric power system of Armenia and Iran in the Russian direction through Georgia. Armenia is connected to the Georgian energy system through the Tbilisi State District Power Station – Alaverdi system. However, to expand transit, new power lines are needed. In April 2016, Armenian energy ministers Levon Yolyan, Iran Hamid Chitchian, Russia Alexander Novak and Georgian Deputy Energy Minister Ilya Eloshvili signed a memorandum of understanding and a “road map” for the North-South energy corridor project, which intends to unite the energy systems of Russia and the countries of the South Caucasus and Iran.
Oleg Budargin, head of the Russian Electric Networks company, noted that the energy corridor Russia – Georgia – Armenia – Iran should become a strategic route for the flow of electricity between the participating countries. Despite the Russian-Georgian political contradictions, these countries can cooperate in the energy sector, as was the case in the spring of 2019, when a short-term contract for the supply of electricity to Abkhazia was signed between the commercial operator of the Georgian electric power system and the Russian company Inter RAO.
Along with negotiations, concrete work is underway. Georgia and Armenia are building new cross-border power lines. The first 400 kV transmission line Armenia-Georgia (the agreement on which was signed in 2014) tripled the cross-border flow between the countries. In 2017, the construction of a new power line between Armenia and Georgia began. At the first stage, the exchange of electricity will be 350 MW. In the future, it is planned to increase the exchange to 750 MW. Another 500 kV transmission line will be built in Georgia in the direction of Russia.
Armenia”s interest in energy exchange with neighbors is explained by the deputy head of the Armenian Ministry of Energy Areg Galstyan, who said that his country’s energy capacity is greater than domestic consumption, but their competitiveness varies depending on the season. Therefore, in spring, the power of Georgian hydroelectric power plants becomes cheaper, and Armenia can buy it by stopping its thermal power plants, and in winter, on the contrary, supply Tbilisi with electricity generated by Armenian thermal power plants. Similar opportunities exist in cooperation with other countries – members of the energy corridor.
In fact, Azerbaijan joins the regional electricity network with the participation of Armenia, declaring its policy of economic blockade of Armenia. As you know, Iran, Russia and Georgia are active partners of Armenia in the field of electricity transmission. With the implementation of the Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan agreement mentioned at the beginning of this article, Azerbaijan will appear to be mediated, through other countries, by Armenia”s partner, without selling or receiving electricity directly from it.