A state-owned thermal power plant in Yerevan owes tens of millions of dollars to Armenia’s national gas distribution network belonging to Russia’s Gazprom monopoly, it was confirmed on Tuesday.
Shushan Sardarian, a spokesman for the Gazprom-Armenia network, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that the power plant has incurred the debt in the past year due to its failure to fully pay for Russian gas supplied to it. She declined to specify the current size of the debt, saying only that it stood at $52.3 million as of last month and that “a considerable part” of it has been repaid since then.
Sardarian said the Russian-owned gas operator is now negotiating with the plant management on “ways of repaying” the rest of the sum. “I think that solutions will be found soon and the debt will be fully cleared,” she said.
The Armenian Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, which oversees the plant’s operations, did not immediately comment on the matter. It is thus not yet clear why the massive debt to the Gazprom has subsidiary been incurred
The gas-powered plant located in the southern outskirts of Yerevan is the most modern and cost-effective facility of its kind in Armenia. It was reconstructed in 2007-2010 with a $247 million loan provided by the Japanese government.
The plant is also the main recipient of natural gas imported from neighboring Iran. Much of the electricity generated by Iranian gas is supplied to the Islamic Republic.
The Armenian government triggered a scandal in late 2013 when it disclosed a $300 million debt to Gazprom resulting from its secret subsidizing of gas prices in the country. The government repaid that debt by selling its remaining 20 percent stake in Gazprom-Armenia to the Russian energy giant.
Sardarian insisted that Gazprom is not interested in gaining more state assets in Armenia in payment for the power plant’s debt. “This issue is not being discussed and Gazprom Armenia has no such intention,” she said.