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Inguri hydroelectric plant: compromise reached?2009-01-12 16:45
Russia-based company INTER RAO UES OJSC and Georgia's Energy Ministry signed the Memorandum of Understanding on "efficient operation of Inguri GES". This agreement must eliminate all disputable maintenance issues for both Tbilisi and Sukhum.
According to the Russian company's site the memorandum was signed on December 30 in the Georgian capital by INTER RAO UES OJSC President of the Board Evgeny Dod and Georgia's Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri. In compliance with the document the parties shall work out the Inguri GES efficient operation program for the minimum term of 10 years.
It is also reported that the representatives of the Russian company held preliminary negotiations with the energy management of Abkhazia.
The Inguri GES is the largest station in the Caucasus. The hydro facility itself is located in the territory of Georgia while the control unit and the main generator hall are in Abkhazia. The drop hydroelectric plants and the Galsky storage lake where the water comes from are in Abkhazia too. That is why interaction of both parties is essential for sound operation of the flight.
Over a half of the energy provided by the Inguri GES is consumed by Georgia. The rest goes to Abkhazia and southern regions of Russia.
It will be remembered that after Abkhazia acquired a new status Georgia's authorities rejected the possibility of the Inguri GES joint management or its alienation in favor of Abkhazia. Moreover late in November the press reported that the hydroelectric plant and the dam had been put out to tender. At the same time there was information that Azenergy Company from Baku was eager to buy it. In particular it was confirmed to Regnum agency by the company's vice president Marlen Askerov.
The reaction of the Abkhazian party was quite harsh. President Sergey Bagapsh stated that the hydroelectric plant "has always been and will remain ours, and we will dictate terms in any negotiations".
Naturally these words irritated Tbilisi. The topic of "energy blackmail" became popular there. However many analysts agreed the deal could not be accomplished without Abkhazia. In the interview with "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" economic issues expert Giya Khukhashvili said: "The project of the GES privatization is unreal as it stands. I'm not aware of the backdoor talks but the fact remains - nothing can be done without Abkhazia. Considering today's situation the privatization of the plant is possible only after coordination of the positions with the Abkhazian party".