Armenia, Georgia, Iran and Russia reportedly agreed on Wednesday to create in 2019 an “energy corridor” that will sharply increase electricity supplies among them.
Energy Ministers Aleksandr Novak of Russia, Hamid Chitchian of Iran and Levon Yolian of Armenia as well as Georgia’s Deputy Energy Minister Ilia Eloshvili signed a “roadmap” to such a multilateral arrangement after talks held in Yerevan. They did not speak to journalists after the signing ceremony, leaving it to Armenian Deputy Energy Minister Areg Galstian to present details of the framework agreement.
“The roadmap formalizes actions and programs that should be realized in time for the physical launch of the North-South energy corridor in 2019,” Armenian and Russian news agencies quoted Galstian as saying. He said it contains time frames for the construction of new power transmission lines that will allow the four countries to synchronize their power grids and engage in significant seasonal swaps of electricity.
Two such lines, slated for completion in 2018, will connect Armenia with Iran and Georgia. In Galstian’s words, Georgia and Russia plan to build similar facilities to also link up their transmission networks.
“It is expected that the North-South energy corridor will have a capacity of around 1,000 megawatts,” said the Armenian official.
“This will stimulate competition among national power generating companies,” he went on, according to News.am. “The [energy] market should open up, first of all for large consumers using high-voltage networks.”
According to Galstian, the four countries have seasonal surpluses of electricity that can already be supplied to one another in limited amounts. In particular, he said, Georgia and Iran plan to start such exchanges through Armenian territory later this year.
“In the strategic sense, this will mark substantial progress, even if we are talking about small supply volumes for the time being,” Galstian added, according to the Arka news agency.
Galstian announced that Armenia will also boost imports of cheap electricity which is generated by Georgian hydroelectric stations and reaches peak levels in spring and summer months. For that purpose, he said, the Armenian government will bring forward from October to May 2016 a planned brief stoppage of the Metsamor nuclear plant’s reactor needed for its refueling and regular maintenance.
“The rescheduling will allow Armenia to use the cheaper electricity of Georgian hydroelectric plants, which develop a surplus in that period, instead of the more expensive energy of [Armenian] thermal power plants,” explained the vice-minister.