Armenia to Hook Up to Iranian Power Grid

YEREVAN (Reuter–Noyan Tapan) — Armenia–looking to shore up domestic electricity supplies–will hook up to neighbor Iran’s power grid by the end of February–Energy Minister Gagik Martirosyan said on Monday.

In the first stages–the line will allow the landlocked former Soviet republic to receive up to 65 megawatts of energy per day–he said.

Martirosyan said Armenia currently produced 20-21 million kilowatts of electricity per day– enough to meet domestic needs.

"The union of our energy system with Iran’s will give us additional insurance. If there is a crisis–Armenia will not suffer," he told Reuters.

The new supplies would reduce Armenia’s dependence on its nuclear power plant or on a gas pipeline through Georgia. Martirosyan said the Armenian part of the power line had been finished and the Iranian section was nearly complete. Armenia’suffered critical shortages of electricity in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed and Armenia lost its cheap supplies of natural gas from Turkmen’stan.

But the shortages eased after Yerevan re-opened the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant and toughened rules on paying domestic and commercial electricity bills–and power cuts have almost ceased.

The nuclear power plant was closed after an earthquake in 1988 which killed 25,000 people.

Martirosyan said Armenian and Iranian officials had also discussed selling Iranian liquefied gas to Armenia and building a new natural gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia. No capacity has been given for the pipeline and no details are available.

The delegation held talks with Iran’s Energy Ministry officials and the administration of the "Tavamir" Energy Company.

Currently–the Armenian-Iranian "Sanarn" Corp.–"Armgasprom" Co. and its subsidiary "Butan" are negotiating the provisions of the agreement.

The Armenian delegation met with representatives of the Iranian Gas company to discuss and agree on a number of financial and technical problems regarding the construction of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline.

It was decided to set up an international consortium in Armenia to attract investment opportunities for the construction of a pipeline. A spokesperson for Armenia’s Energy Ministry stated that a number of foreign organizations had displayed interest in investing in such a project.

The Energy Ministry also said Iran and Armenia had discussed the possibility of building a hydroelectric power station near their border over the Arax river–but officials had no details on the likely capacity of the plant.

The agreemen’s were reached during a recent visit by a delegation of the Armenian Energy Ministry led by deputy Energy Minister Karen Galoustian to Iran.

The Armenian delegation also attended an international conference on gas held on Kysh island from February 16 to 17. The conference was attended by such major foreign companies as "Gasprom" (Russia)–"Gas de France" (France)–"SEDIGAS,"Total" and "British Petroleum" (Great Britain).

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