Addressing an enlarged cabinet meeting, Saakashvili said on 19 January that Georgia should become energy self-sufficient by 2009.
He called on the government to develop its own gas industry, saying the country has enough underground reserves to cover a quarter of its domestic needs. He also stressed the need for Georgia to develop alternative energy sources.
Georgia depends almost exclusively on Russia for natural gas.
Last month, Tbilisi and Moscow reached a tentative agreement under which Russia's Gazprom gas monopoly would this year nearly double the price it currently charges Georgia for gas.
Saakashvili reiterated on 19 January that he believes the price hike is "political."
(Novosti-Gruziya, Imedi TV, Prime News)
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HOW MUCH OIL? The U.S. Energy Information Administration has estimated that the Caspian could hold between 17 billion and 33 billion barrels of proven oil. ("Proven reserves" are defined by energy experts to be 90 percent probable.) Other experts estimate the Caspian could hold "possible reserves" of up to 233 billion barrels of oil. ("Possible reserves" are considered to be 50 percent probable.) By comparison, Saudi Arabia has 261 billion barrels of oil and the United States 23 billion...(more)