Georgia Not to Sell Strategic Russia-Armenia Pipeline

TBILISI (Combined Sources)–The Georgian government has said it does not plan to sell a strategic pipeline that brings Russian natural gas to Armenia through its territory, News.am reported Wednesday.

According to a Georgian government spokesman, Niko Mchedlishvili, many regional states have expressed interest in purchasing the pipeline. “However, it does not mean that pipeline will be sold,” she said.

According to News.am, the Chairman of Georgia’s Parliamentary Committee for Legal Affairs, Pavel Kublashvili, proposed a sale of the gas pipeline earlier this year.

The Georgian parliament opened up the possibility of selling its pipelines in June when it voted in the first reading to remove the so-called North-South pipeline from a list of strategic state facilities not subject to privatization.

Speaking in Parliament during the bill’s debate, Georgian Prime Minister Nikoloz Gilauri, spoke of the possibility of putting 10-15 percent of the gas main shares up for sale in the London Stock Exchange.

Earlier in August, Azeri news sources reported that Azerbaijan was allegedly considering offering Georgia $500 million for the key energy pipeline.

Meanwhile, the head of Azerbaijan’s state oil company (SOCAR), Rovnag Abdullaev, has made no effort to hide his government’s intentions to buy all the oil and gas pipelines running through Georgia or to purchase all shares of the pipeline if it’s put on the market.

In 2006 Russia’s main gas exporter Gazprom offered $250 million for the pipeline, though Georgia asked for $1 billion.

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