By Shakeh Avoyan
Georgia has resumed seasonal imports of electricity from Armenia in an effort to alleviate its chronic power shortages, officials in Yerevan said on Wednesday.
The power supplies averaging 2 million kilowatt/hours a day are carried out by Armrosgazprom, a Russian-Armenian joint venture that runs Armenia’s natural gas distribution network. Armenia currently produces 25 million kilowatt/hours of energy a day.
A spokeswoman for the company, Shushan Sardarian, told RFE/RL that the supplies began on January 1 will continue at least until the end of this month. She said the electricity is again being delivered to the U.S. firm AES Telasi which runs the power grid of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. AES Telasi had previously imported it from December 2001 through March 2002.
Other sources said power is also separately supplied to Georgia’s Armenian-populated Javakheti region by Hayenergo, Armenia’s state-run central power grid.
The Georgian government owed Armenia $4.4 million for past power imports one year ago. The debt was subsequently assumed by a Russian energy company which was due to negotiate a barter agreement with official Yerevan. Hayenergo sources said the company has still not settled the debt.
The Armenian Energy Ministry, meanwhile, assured that there will be no power shortages despite a serious accident in Russia this week on a section of the main pipeline carrying Russian natural gas into Georgia and Armenia. A ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL that the fuel continues to flow in through another, smaller pipeline running through the Caucasus mountains.
Sardarian, for her part, said that Armrosgazprom has stored enough gas to continue to supply it to domestic thermal power plants and individual consumers for the next two weeks.
Armrosgazprom, which is controlled by Russia’s Gazprom giant, buys electricity from the thermal plant in Hrazdan and resells to the Tbilisi-based operator with Hayenergo’s approval.