By Ruzanna Stepanian
Armenia was receiving a fraction of its regular gas supplies from Russia for a third consecutive day on Wednesday due to the reported rupture at a vital pipeline running through neighboring Georgia.
Georgian officials say a section of the pipeline was ruptured by an avalanche on Sunday. Armenia has since been importing Russian gas through a much smaller reserve pipeline.
“Both yesterday and today, the volume of the imported gas met only one third of our domestic demand,” a spokeswoman for the ArmRosGazprom (ARG) national gas operator, Shushan Sardarian, told RFE/RL. “At the moment, intensive repairs are underway at the site of the accident. Specialists from Armenia are also there.”
“According to our Georgian colleagues, consequences of the accident may be eliminated as early as this evening,” Sardarian said.
In the meantime, she added, ARG is offsetting the shortfall by pumping gas from its massive underground storage facility north of Yerevan. The facility already allowed Armenia to avoid gas and electricity shortages during last winter’s mysterious blasts on Russian sections of both pipelines which fully disrupted Russian gas deliveries to both South Caucasus states for nearly one month.
Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, claimed on Tuesday that the latest pipeline break is fraught with severe consequences for Armenia. "We don't know what caused the rupture at the Georgian pipeline," Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said in a statement. "But it is obvious that if repair works drag on for long, Armenia could be left without gas in the storage in winter. It is a very worrying situation."
Russian gas is used for generating about 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity. It is also the principal source of winter heating.