Why Gazprom scares the Transcaucasia

Russia may "punish" Georgia, denying it the transit of its gas to Armenia. What does Gazprom want to achieve and what "secrets" hide Tbilisi?
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In Georgia, more indignant closed negotiations Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze with representatives of "Gazprom". Tbilisi periodically undergo rallies demanding the declassification of contacts with the Russian gas giant, which is part of the opposition and experts consider perhaps the main political enemy of the country. Although opponents are densely populated on Kaladze, his regular meeting with Gazprom's officials in Vienna on Wednesday did not clarify anything for the curious: the Ministry of Energy informed only that the talks were held, and "workflow continues to agree on acceptable conditions for the parties."

The ministry also reported that the main importer of gas to Georgia via Azerbaijan remains, however, to meet the needs of the Georgian market, increased in four years by nearly 40 percent, a neighboring country can not. Accordingly, it is an increase in the supply of Russian gas, otherwise the gas prices in the country may increase. However, Azerbaijan has not confirmed the information about his inability to fully meet the demands of the Georgianmarket for natural gas.

Be that as it may, the heated atmosphere, caused by the "suspicious" of the Georgian government contacts with the monopoly of the "occupant country", it was necessary to somehow defuse and Kaladze went to "carpet" in one of the opposition television stations. He told her that "Gazprom" puts Georgia's "ultimatum": either Georgia receives for transit to Armenia 10 per cent of the pumped fuel, as was the case for many years, and the money, or Russian fuel will be exported to Armenia via Iran. As the Minister for the Georgian side, "it was news," which it "categorically do not like."

Many Georgian and Azerbaijani experts believe that Russia is bluffing, because the threat of transit refocus on Iran are not backed by technical capabilities. That is, the "Gazprom", "hang noodles on the ears" in the hope discourage Georgia from Azerbaijan supply and make it dependent on Russia. But as Kaladze said, Russia does have the ability to connect to transit Iran, although the supply of gas to Armeniyu in the first year of involvement of the Iranian transit will face some difficulties related to the volume of exports. But then, "Gazprom", in investing, be able to fully saturate gas Armenian market.

Realism of Russian gas supplies to Armenia bypassing Georgia and confirmed the president of Energy Academy Revaz Arveladze. As he explained to the agency "InterPressNews", there is one pipeline, but due to lack of sufficient number of compressor stations its capacity of 1 billion cubic meters between Armenia and Iran in the year. However, this amount may be increased up to 2.5 billion cubic meters, "Russia and can now supply gas to Armenia via Iran in the amount of 1 billion cubic meters, that is half of the desired gas, and perhaps in a year the need for Armenia can be fully satisfied."

So, he said, "what says Russia, close to reality, but will do if she - that is another question." According to Arveladze, Georgia should try as much as possible to maintain the existing supply chain in Armeniyu, that is to continue to receive no money, and natural gas as a transit fee.

In short, unless the parties agree on the terms of the deal, Georgia will be on the "beans." The opinion according to which Moscow is trying to put pressure on Georgia by "Gazprom", Kaladze does not share: "In Russia, in addition to" Gazprom "and natural gas, there are other tools to put pressure on Georgia."

Unfortunately, he said, Georgia is somewhat dependent on Russian energy. "For years, we get electricity from Russia as compared to other countries in the region it has the lowest prices. ... In the energy sector have developed a really good, well-established relationship (with Russia - author's note.). I'm not going to ruin a relationship that lined my predecessors over the years. I proceed from the interests of the country ", - said Kaladze.

But opponents of the government continue to insist on the evils of Georgia deal with "Gazprom" and require "maximum transparency". It is unlikely that full disclosure of pending TALKSHur in business appropriate - it may be harmful to the interests of both sides. But when it comes to the "political" Gazprom ", many do not take into account, because they believe that Russian" blackmail "Georgia and tries to" enslave ".

In particular, the co-founder of the Association of Georgian reforms Elena Khoshtaria said that Georgia's energy policy should not be built on the basis of blackmail and political influence of Russia. "We have entered into negotiations, in which Russia is trying to drive into the corner of Georgia", - she said. In her opinion, the occurrence of "Gazprom" on the Georgian market should not be seen even in the presence of a gas deficit problem.

But there is a problem. Told "Rosbalt" a source in the Ministry of Energy, this year Georgia needs to get at least 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas, and Azerbaijan on a number of objective reasons, has not kept pace to cover the deficit of the Georgian gas market, as the needs of Azerbaijan increased to 10 billion cubic meters, and it still has contractual obligations to Turkey. Therefore, Azerbaijan itself for xoditsya buy gas from Russia, in order not to disrupt the export contracts.

The Department of Energy also acknowledged that Georgia would be more satisfied with the preservation of barter with "Gazprom" - transit in exchange for fuel - but the Russian company probably decided to switch completely to international practice, that is, to pay for transit money. And if Georgia is "rested", it will miss 25 percent of the required volume of gas it. This means that it must, at least, to achieve the highest level of transit fees.

In general, Georgia and "Gazprom", traded very furiously on transit terms. But the Russian gas giant may be other interests in the Georgian energy sector. Rumors that they are being discussed in Tbilisi very active, because, as they say, the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made the ruling coalition "Georgian Dream" and was briefly prime minister of the country, is a shareholder of "Gazprom". Therefore, the interests of the latter in Georgia, as well as in "Gazprom" can be very diverse. According to one of the opposition leaders, Nikoloz Rurua, in atuations around the "Gazprom" involved Ivanishvili that "how Karabas-Barabas playing puppets in the government."

On the other hand, in the history of "Gazprom" can not be any "conspiracy" and the parties just play by market rules. That is, Georgia makes clear its main supplier - Azerbaijan that its gas world is large enough, and if he did not throw off the price of fuel, it will lose a certain segment of the Georgian market, in which the Azerbaijani State Oil Company SOCAR has invested large investments. And because of SOCAR, losing huge amounts of money to a catastrophic fall in oil prices is not going to yield to the Georgian market someone else, she will find a way to increase supplies to Georgia at a lower price.

Perhaps in the same way will work and "Gazprom", that is, to negotiate with Georgia on acceptable terms of the deal for her to gain a foothold in the local market. The more that prices fall not only in oil but also natural gas. However, at least in the medium term SOCAR in any case remain a leading player in energetichesth the Georgian market.

Another scenario would mean a disaster for Georgia, bringing down its energy security and the transit function to zero. And to such insanity, even the government of Georgia are not very strategic and tactical talents, hardly sunk.