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Energy Minister Says Georgia to Keep Existing Gas Transit Terms with Gazprom
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 6 Mar.'16 / 14:50

Georgia and Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom have agreed in principle to keep the existing gas transit terms and pay Georgia 10% of Russian gas transported to Armenia via Georgia, Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze said on March 5.

“Agreement has been achieved; only signing of the contract is now left,” the Georgian Energy Minister told journalists.

“According to the agreement this year we remain within the scope of the existing contract, which is in force for years already, envisaging receiving as a transit fee 10 percent of natural gas transported [from Russia to Armenia],” he said, adding that the contract will run until the end of 2016.

Kaladze’s remarks came a day after the Georgian Energy Ministry announced about a new deal with Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR, according to which Georgia will receive additional of 500 million cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan.

Gazprom wanted to monetize transit fee and pay cash, instead of 10% of gas transported to Armenia via Georgia.
 
If monetized, Georgia would not have receive enough cash to buy the same amount of gas it is now receiving as a transit fee; in such case the country would have required to buy more gas from Gazprom.

But after announcing about additional gas supplies from Azerbaijan, Energy Minister Kaladze said on March 4 that there was “no need for additional volumes of gas” from Russia at this stage.

In separate remarks on March 5, Kaladze told journalists that because of securing additional gas supplies from Azerbaijan, Georgia will find itself in “a stronger position” in talks with Gazprom.
 
“If for the next year they [Gazprom] again raise the issue [of monetizing the fee], we will have stronger position,” he said.

Kaladze’s announcement about the deal on keeping existing transit terms with Gazprom came a day before opposition United National Movement party’s human chain protest against Gazprom on March 6 in Tbilisi.

In an attempt to claim credit for this deal, the UNM leaders say that their fierce opposition against possible increase of share of Gazprom’s gas in supplies forced the government to maintain existing transit terms with Gazprom and to negotiate additional gas supplies from Azerbaijan.

“We are close to final victory. The fact that we have forced the government to say no to Gazprom actually means that this [protest] rally has almost achieved its goal – I say ‘almost’ because the eventual goal will be achieved when we finally and firmly ascertain that we managed to make the government say no to Georgia’s return back to influence and darkness of Russia’s Gazprom,” MP Davit Bakradze, leader of the UNM parliamentary minority group, said on March 6 ahead of launch of human chain protest in Tbilisi.

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