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The Inguri hydroelectric plant is once again the centre of attention2009-01-13 16:02
Georgia's revenue from the Inguri hydroelectric plant which it runs jointly with the Russian company Inter RAO UES will increase by more than 40 million lari, claims Georgia's Energy Minister Aleksandr Khetaguri.
According to him, in a memorandum on mutual understanding signed at the end of December the Russian side made a series of important commitments, including to pay Georgia for the cost of the electric power generated by the Inguri plant which is then supplied to Abkhazia.
According to information released by the Georgian Energy Ministry, the Inguri plant generates 4.2 billion kWh of electricity a year, which constitutes 45 percent of all the country's generated power. Of this, 1.2 billion kWh is supplied to Abkhazia.
Tbilisi says that the Abkhazians have still paid Georgia nothing for this electricity, but thanks to the memorandum with Inter RAO Georgia will receive about an additional 15 million lari.
Furthermore, the Russian company will undertake to buy the electricity that the Inguri plant has been generating to excess during the summer flooding period, which will bring in about another 25 million lari.
Russia is also intending to export electricity to Turkey through Georgian territory, which Tbilisi is referring to as another additional source of income. And specialists from the energy ministry are confident that the working in parallel of the Georgian and Russian energy systems will increase the technical stability of the Georgian energy system.
The memorandum has been signed, and now both parties are working on the text of an agreement whereby, as the energy minister explains, 100 percent of the shares in the Inguri hydroelectric plant will remain the property of the Georgian state, but a joint Georgian-Russian council, headed by a Georgian director, will run the plant.
The report from the energy minister has provoked protests from the parliamentary opposition who are primarily outraged by the fact that such an agreement was concluded in secret, out of the public's gaze.
"Just yesterday the energy minister claimed that no agreement had been signed with Russia over the Inguri hydroelectric plant, but today he is saying the exact opposite. When should we believe him? And for how long will such agreements continue to be concluded in secret?" wonders the opposition deputy Paata Davitaya.
According to him, neither 15 nor 40 million lari are worth the country's energy security being placed under threat.