Armenia and Iran on Thursday officially began the repeatedly postponed construction of a major hydroelectric plant on the Arax river marking their border, a $330 million project highlighting a close relationship between the two nations.
President Sarkisian, Energy Minister Armen Movsisian and his Iranian counterpart Majid Namjou attended a special ceremony held near the Armenian border town of Meghri on the occasion. Movsisian said the 130-megawatt plant will bolster Armenia-Iranian ties and Armenia’s energy security.
“This is a good and economically beneficial project,” Namjou said for his part. Work on the facility will likely take five years, he added.
The inauguration ceremony was followed by Sarkisian’s separate talks with Namjou. The Armenian leader’s press office quoted the Iranian minister as saying that he and Movsisian will continue to “actively work” on the implementation of other Armenian-Iranian energy projects.
Those include the construction of a fuel pipeline and a new power transmission line. Both projects as well as the Arax plant’s construction have fallen behind schedule.
The start of the construction was inaugurated two weeks after Movsisian and Namjou chaired a meeting of an Armenian-Iranian inter-governmental commission on economic cooperation in Yerevan. They announced a final agreement on the hydroelectric plant after that meeting.
According to Armenian Energy Ministry sources, an Iranian company will build the plant and use all electricity generated by it at will for 15 years. They say the facility will then become property of Armenia.
Energy cooperation between the two neighboring countries received a significant boost four years ago with the construction of a pipeline transporting Iranian natural gas to Armenia.