Wednesday, December 14 2016 18:30
Alexandr Avanesov

Sale of part of cross-country gas pipeline to Azerbaijan may become disaster waiting to happen

Sale of part of cross-country gas pipeline to Azerbaijan may become disaster waiting to happen

ArmInfo. The statement made by the new head of Gazprom Armenia that there are no risks regarding the Georgian government's possible sale of 25% of shares of the main gas line to Azerbaijan's SOCAR is nothing more than putting on a good face, UN Expert on Energy Ara Marjanyan stated in a talk to ArmInfo's reporter.

"The first step is the hardest. It is enough to purchase 25% of shares first and later the controlling interest in the Georgian company", he said. According to the expert the gas pipeline may become property of Armenia's tactical enemy-Azerbaijan. Marjanyan recalled that this is not a new problem-yet 3-4 years ago the Georgian authorities put the issue on the agenda, however the solution of it was postponed then.  "However, there are forces in Georgia that are interested in such a development. Armenia needs to use its leverages on the Georgian authorities at the same time searching ways for mutually beneficial cooperation.  In any case if the sale takes place it will mean Georgia's indirect participation in energy blockade of Armenia", the expert thinks.

To recall, Gazprom Armenia CJSC Director General Hrant Tadevosyan in talk to ArmInfo's correspondent pointed at the fact the problem is not so much technical as a political one. "If we consider this issue in the context of civilized international norms there should be no problems. Moreover, the fact should be considered that both Armenia and Georgia, as well as other countries have a number of international obligations and have signed certain international agreements and contracts", Tadevosyan stressed.  According to independent experts this statement is puzzling as the issue of selling property cannot be a subject of international documents. And if SOCAR purchases a cross-country gas line no one can forbid it to use it in its sole discretion. And a lot of reasons can be found for suspending supply of gas to Armenia for instance- repair work of gas distribution network or "unexpected incidents". Many people have already forgotten about numerous cases of blowing up the gas pipeline in the beginning of 1990ies during the war in Karabakh. We can face a similar situation today.

The specialists of the gas sector think that from technical point of view Armenia's gas transporting system has flow capacity of smaller pressure. The system is designed for 55 atm, while Georgia's gas pipeline system works at no higher then 33-34 atm and in order to increase pressure investments should be made.  Possibly, the Georgian government seeks to sell shares with the very aim to found investor. However, it unlikely that SOCAR company will invest in the modernization of a gas pipeline, though which Armenia receives fuel from Russia. If economic factor prevails over political one, the same SOCAR company could construct a gas and petroleum pipelines to Turkey via Armenia's territory. However, no such intentions are voiced by Azerbaijan within TANAP program. On the contrary, Armenia's economic blockade and its exclusion from any cross-border projects has become the main line of Baku's economic diplomacy. That is why strategic risks in case of sale of gas pipeline will increase several-fold, considering that everything is possible, even a war. This means that there are serious reasons for concern and we live not on the Mars but in a region, which has trouble spots that can develop into cruel wars without any rules, least of all international ones.

To note, Armenia's Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan also does not see any grounds for concern related to possibility of sale of 25% of shares of the cross-country gas pipeline by the Georgian government. According to Karapetyan as of now the matter concerns to intentions only. "But even if the Georgian government adopts such a decision I do not see any risks for Armenia", the Prime Minister noted adding that 25% do not have decisive importance. However, if more shares are sold risks will grow and in this case we will hold negotiations with friendly Georgia", Karen Karapetyan stressed.

To note, earlier Georgian mass media were informing that as soon as there are favorable conditions the Georgian government will place 25% of shares of "Petroleum and Gas Corporation" and "Georgian Railway" on the stock market. Earlier Azerbaijan's State Petroleum Company (SOCAR) was stating about its intention to buy Georgian pipeline. Gas from Russia is being supplied to Armenia via this very pipeline and naturally decision to sell part of it is a reason for concerns for the Armenian side, Georgian mass media wrote.

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