In an interview with Russian news agency Interfax on April 25 Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said that the Georgian authorities made “a pragmatic” decision to rehabilitate the country's gas pipeline system in lieu of its privatization.
“This is a final decision,” Nogaideli stated.
“We are following our own interests and, in this particular case, our economic interests. Previously, we had particular problems with attracting funds for rehabilitation, but very soon we will receive USD 40 million from a U.S. program [referring to the Millennium Challenge Account],” the Georgian PM said.
The Russian energy giant Gazprom was interested in purchasing the trunk pipeline. statements made by the Georgian leadership made in February over a possible privatization of the gas pipeline system to the Russian state-controlled Gazprom triggered the concerns of not only Georgian opposition, but of the United States as well.
Zurab Nogaideli said that Georgia needs these pipelines to be rehabilitated in order to ensure a supply of Russian gas to both Georgia and Armenia, via Georgia. “Hence, we will profit by transporting gas through the pipeline,” Nogaideli said, adding that Georgia will receive 10% of transited gas as a transit fee.
“We will not create any problems for Russian gas transit to Armenia,” he said.
The Georgian Prime Minister stressed that Georgia is also interested in alternative gas supplies. “Frankly speaking, if gas from [U.S.-backed] Shah-Deniz [Azerbaijan] is cheaper than Russian gas, we will buy gas from them, or vice versa. This is a clear and pragmatic approach,” Nogaideli added.