Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Gazprom, visited Armenia and set “ambitious” goals for the country’s natural gas distribution company on Wednesday just weeks after the Russian gas monopoly gained full control over the network.
Accompanied by two of his deputies and other top Gazprom executives, Miller met with the management of the ARG network for the first time since the recent signing of controversial agreements that solidified Russia’s strong presence in the Armenian energy sector. He also held separate talks with President Serzh Sarkisian.
The Armenian government ceded its remaining 20 percent share in ARG as part of those agreements. The transfer was completed by Miller and Energy Minister Armen Movsisian in Moscow on January 16. Gazprom previously owned 80 percent of the company which will now be called Gazprom Armenia.
A statement released by the company quoted Miller as saying at the meeting in Yerevan that the Russian giant plans to “substantially increase the effectiveness of Gazprom Armenia’s activities.” “The goals and tasks set for the company will be ambitious,” said the statement.
Miller was reported to praise “colossal progress” made by the company in restoring centralized gas supplies to Armenian households, which had collapsed shortly after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He argued that 96 percent of homes in Armenia are currently connected to the network, up from 21 percent in 2002.
“I can say that many regions of the Russian Federation would envy such a high degree of gasification,” said the Gazprom chief widely regarded as an influential Kremlin insider.
According to the statement, the meeting chaired by Miller focused on the Armenian network’s “integration into the Gazprom Group” and its activities over the next few years. No further details were reported.
According to official data, the total volume of Russian gas supplies to Armenia was virtually unchanged last year, at almost 2 billion cubic meters. It was mainly consumed by households, thermal power plants and hundreds of thousands of vehicles running on liquefied gas.
By comparison, Armenia imported roughly 500 million cubic meters of gas from neighboring Iran. The entire Armenian section of a pipeline carrying Iranian gas is managed by the Gazprom subsidiary.
Gazprom Armenia also owns a recently completed thermal power plant located in the central Armenian town of Hrazdan. Miller personally inaugurated it during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to the country in December.