By Ruben Meloyan
Energy Minister Armen Movsisian insisted on Friday that Armenia will start exporting electricity to Turkey this spring in line with an agreement which he said was reached by the two governments last year.
The Armenian government announced such an agreement between an Armenian state-run power transmission company and a Turkish utility following Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s September 2008 visit to Yerevan. Movsisian and other energy officials said that Armenia will start delivering 1.5 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity in March if technical preparations at power grids in eastern Turkey are completed by that time.
The Turkish side has still not officially confirmed the information. Some officials in Ankara have actually denied that Turkey is set to buy electricity from a country with which it has no open border and diplomatic relations.
“The agreement [on electricity exports] was signed,” Movsisian insisted on Friday. “In accordance with that agreement, preparatory work is underway [in Turkey] to start electricity deliveries as soon as possible.”
“It was envisaged that that work will be complete in April,” he told RFE/RL. “It is still possible that we will finish that and start [supplies] in April. The latest snowfalls and weather conditions will create technical problems. But in any case, the agreement will begin to work after the technical issues are solved.”
Armenia produced approximately 6 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity last year and has the capacity to significantly boost that output. Two major Armenian thermal-power plants are currently undergoing multimillion-dollar reconstruction. They are due to be the main recipients of natural gas that will start flowing to Armenia from neighboring Iran through a recently built pipeline. It is expected that the bulk of electricity to be generated with Iranian gas will be sold to the Islamic Republic.
The small landlocked country will enhance its energy export potential further if the Armenian government succeeds in replacing the Soviet-built nuclear power station at Metsamor by a new and modern facility by 2016. The government is looking for an estimated $5 billion in foreign investments need for the implementation of the ambitious project.
Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian caused a stir recently when he declared that Yerevan would not object to Turkish investments in the project. “Anyone can participate in the construction of our nuclear plant,” confirmed Movsisian. “By that I mean that they can own a stake in the future plant.”
“Nobody has officially applied to us to discuss Turkish involvement,” he said.