By Ruben Meloyan
A senior government official has confirmed that Armenia will start exporting electricity to neighboring Turkey by the end of this year.
Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisian told RFE/RL on Thursday that an agreement on that had been reached “at the high level” and that he expects no “political obstacles” to the project that he says will be of a long-term nature.
The announcement of the deal came days after the first-ever visit of a Turkish head of state to Armenia. While in Yerevan last Saturday Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul and his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sarkisian discussed possibilities of normalizing bilateral ties between the two countries with historically strained relations.
Representatives of the UNIT Company engaged in importation and distribution of high-voltage electricity in Turkey also reportedly attended the visit of President Gul to Yerevan.
Minister Movsisian said Armenia’s energy infrastructure is mostly ready to start supplying electricity to Turkey but added that some work still needs to be done by the Turkish party before the deliveries can begin.
“The lines on our side are mainly ready. We only have to do an overall check. The Turkish party has asked for four months to complete their part of the work, after which we will start electricity supplies for a few days experimentally and then on a regular basis,” Movsisian said, adding that electricity supplies are expected to be on a year-round basis rather than have a seasonal nature.
“It is a long-term and quite a serious program,” Movsisian said. “I can not say what part of Turkey will the imported electricity be used for, but since Turkey experiences a shortage of electricity, the volume of supply will be quite sizable, and I think it will tremendously ease their problems.”
According to Movsisian, the price of supplied electricity will be economically effective and will depend on thermal energy and gas prices. According to current estimates, it may make 5.7 cents per kilowatt.
Armenian Nuclear Power Plant Director-General Gagik Markosian also considers the deal to be lucrative.
“I think it is very lucrative as an energy project. As all know, Armenia has a lot of untapped capacities and this potential that we have is not being used either,” Markosian said. “We have stations, specialists, personnel. And in all cases, exporting electricity is a very profitable deal for Armenia.”
The nuclear station in Metsamor currently produces an average of 2.5 billion kilowatt per hour of electricity a year, according to its head manager.
Markosian says the preliminarily agreed volume of annual electric power supplies to Turkey estimated at 1.5 billion kilowatt/hour with a possibility to grow up to 3.5 billion is a “very serious figure.”