Armenia has asked Iran to supply it with much more natural gas during a month-long suspension of its gas imports from Russia carried out via Georgia, it was announced on Tuesday.
A Georgian gas operator halted Russian gas deliveries to Armenia on Sunday, citing the need for urgent capital repairs on a section of a Georgian pipeline stretching to the Armenian border. The company said they will resume on August 10.
Armenia buys roughly 80 percent of the gas used by its companies and population from Russia. It was initially expected to make up for the temporary shortage by tapping an underground gas storage facility just north of Yerevan.
However, the Armenian government has decided instead to switch to emergency supplies from Iran. It said Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian phoned Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri on Tuesday to request a sharp rise in Iranian gas supplies to Armenia.
“The Iranian side responded positively to the Armenian side’s proposal,” said a government statement. It did not reveal the volume of emergency gas imports from Iran agreed by Abrahamian and Jahangiri.
Armenia has imported up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually ever since it built in 2008 a gas pipeline connecting it to the Islamic Republic. By comparison, Russian gas supplies to the South Caucasus country total around 2 billion cubic meters.
With Armenia paying for Iranian gas with electricity, Iran is due to at least triple the gas supplies after the construction of a third power transmission line connecting the two neighboring states. Work on the $120 million line is slated for completion in 2018.