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Georgian Landslide Disrupts Russian Gas Supplies To Armenia

The gas was being piped to Armenia (file photo)

The gas was being piped to Armenia (file photo)

YEREVAN -- Georgia has suspended the transit of Russian natural gas through Georgian territory today following landslides that reportedly damaged the pipeline carrying it to Armenia, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Georgian media reported that the landslides caused by heavy rains occurred in a mountainous area close to the Russian border. The head of Georgia's National Oil and Gas Corporation, Zurab Janjgava, said repairs on the damaged section of the pipeline have begun and will take two or three days.

Armenia's gas distribution company ArmRosGazprom (ARG) confirmed the reports but said the disruption will not affect gas supplies domestic consumers. ARG spokeswoman Shushan Sardarian told RFE/RL the company is using gas from an underground storage facility north of Yerevan.

"We have repeatedly been in such force-majeure situations before," she said. "And if it wasn't for these reports, our consumers would not even know that gas is not entering the country."

The storage facility enabled Armenia to avoid gas rationing during similar accidents on Georgian and Russian sections of the pipeline in the past. Armenia was unable to import Russian gas for 10 days in January 2006 due to a pipeline explosion in southern Russia.

The landlocked country's energy security was significantly boosted in late 2008 with the construction of a gas pipeline from neighboring Iran. It began importing modest volumes of Iranian gas, mainly for generating and exporting electricity, in May 2009.

Sardarian said ARG could always use Iranian gas for domestic consumption if necessary. "With a second gas pipeline, we feel more secure," she said.