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Russia's Gazprom To Increase Gas Deliveries To Georgia

Some Georgian politicians have criticized the gas price hike (epa) 20 December 2005 -- Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom said today it will substantially increase its supplies to Georgia next year.

Addressing reporters in Tbilisi, Gazprom Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Ryazanov said deliveries in 2006 would total 2.25 billion cubic meters, compared with 1.3 billion cubic meters this year.

Ryazanov also confirmed that Gazprom will hike the price it charges Georgia and the other two South Caucasus states of Armenia and Azerbaijan to $110 per 1,000 cubic meters as of next year.

"For Georgia, the price will be the same as for [the] other [two] countries, although I must say I believe this is not entirely fair from a strictly commercial viewpoint. If you take Amenia, for example, we have a joint venture there, of which we own 45 percent," Ryazanov said. "[Armenia's] pipeline [network] belongs to our joint venture. Since we're earning money through sales to consumers, Armenia was entitled to expect some clemency on our part. Yet, we decided to introduce a single price of $110 for the whole Transcaucasus."

Gazprom currently charges Georgia $64 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas. It charges Armenia $56.

Some Georgian politicians have said that the upcoming hike is tantamount to political blackmail.

(Local agencies)