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OSCE’s “gas experience” is again in demand2009-02-11 16:52
The gas supply to Tskhinvali may be cut off because of a fall in pressure in the pipes. This was reported on 8 February by the head engineer for the republic's "Energetika" association Nugzar Tabuev.
"Today the gas pressure in the distribution system fell sharply," Tabuev is quoted by Kavkazsky Uzel. "The meter at the gas measuring station shows that the pressure has fallen from five and a half atmospheres to one." The head engineer noted that he had been in contact with representatives of the Georgian company Itera-Gruziya which is responsible for supplying Russian gas to South Ossetia: "They're saying in Tbilisi that the pipe is damaged."
However, Tabuev himself did not believe these claims. "A leak cannot cause such a sharp fall in pressure, and I'm sure that the gas valve has just been turned down," he concluded.
This is undoubtedly a controversial statement. The question therefore arises: has the valve actually been turned down? In an interview with "Interfax", the deputy director-general of "Itera-Gruziya" Irakli Nikolaishvili refuted this theory:
"Supplies of natural gas to Tskhinvali are continuing to be carried out without any restrictions. In accordance with South Ossetia's requirements, at the moment the volume of these supplies comes to 20,000 cubic metres a day." According to him, when the gas emerges, its pressure is between 5-6 atmospheres. If this is to believed, it means that the disinformation is coming from the head engineer of "Energetika".
For the time being it is difficult to work out who is telling the truth and who is not, and whether this is intentional or the result of being insufficiently informed. Meanwhile, in order to prevent any conjecture, surmising and contradictions, the South Ossetian authorities, according to Tabuev, have decided to check the entire length of the gas pipeline - from Tskhinvali to Tbilisi - shortly.
But how can this be done? Who will carry out the inspection? The Georgians will not let Ossetian specialists onto their territory. And after the 6-month long gas blockade, the Ossetians are unlikely to want representatives from "Itera" to "cast their spells" over their section of the pipeline. It means that there is only one solution: to again ask OSCE experts, who played an important role in the recent resumption of the gas supplies, to come and investigate.