Armenia’s Russian-owned national gas distribution company declined on Wednesday to specify the amount of additional Iranian gas that will be used by it during a month-long suspension of supplies from Russia.
Shushan Sardarian, the spokeswoman for the Gazprom-Armenia operator, said only that it will tap an underground gas storage facility outside Yerevan to make up for “most” of the temporary shortage. She would not specify the precise volume of emergency supplies.
Armenia buys roughly 80 percent of its gas from Russia through a pipeline passing through Georgia, with the remaining 20 percent coming from Iran.
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.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian phoned Iran’s First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri on Tuesday to request a rise in Iranian gas supplies to Armenia. According to an Armenian government statement, Jahangiri granted the request.
Sardarian said that Armenia will import more Iranian gas until August 10 because it does not want to deplete the storage facility given its strategic importance to the landlocked country. She could not say what the cost of the additional imports from the Islamic Republic will be, arguing that Iranian gas will be technically delivered to a state-run thermal power plant in Yerevan before reaching Gazprom-Armenia.
“The Yerevan thermal power plant is a party to the supply contract with Iran,” Sardarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “It is the plant, not Gazprom-Armenia, that buys Iranian gas.”
The plant pays for that gas with electricity supplied to Iran. The swap arrangement will be drastically expanded after Armenia builds a new power transmission line connecting it to Iran in the coming years.