Thursday, 06 July 2017 09:17

    Armenia To Choose Between Energy Diversification And Loyalty To Russia

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    In mid-June, the CEO of Russia’s gas monopolist Gazprom, Alexei Miller, paid a spontaneous visit to Yerevan, where he met with Armenia’s Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. Official information about the meeting is rather scarce. Besides mutually exchanged compliments, reports mention plans for the exploitation of the fifth unit of the Hrazdan thermal power plant and the underground natural gas storage site in Abovyan (Armradio.am, June 16). The construction of Hrazdan’s fifth unit originally began in 1993. But in 2006, the half-built unit was sold by the Armenian government to Gazprom’s subsidiary ArmRosGazprom.

    After construction was completed, the unit has been able to produce up to 480 megawatts (MW) of power (News.am, December 2, 2013). It has been in limited use since then, producing electricity supplied to Iran in exchange for natural gas. The underground gas storage site in Abovyan, built during the Soviet era and capable of holding around 140 million cubic meters of natural gas (Armenpress.am, November 2, 2010), was transferred to ArmRosGazprom in 2012 (Armenpress.am, December 26, 2012).

    Earlier this year, the Armenian Ministry of Energy announced that some parts of the construction of a 400 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line between Armenia and Iran were already built (Aravot, February 8). In turn, Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan told his colleagues from the Visegrad Four states (Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), in April, that the European Union’s support for the construction of a power transmission line between Armenia and Georgia had been received (News.am, April 12). Plans to expand the transmission capacities between Armenia and its neighbors and to develop interconnections between Iranian, Armenian, Georgian and Russian electric grids were announced in 2015 (see EDM, January 4, 2016).

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