Russia cutting supplies of natural gas to Tbilisi by half

ITAR-TASS News Agency
March 10, 2004 Wednesday

Russia cutting supplies of natural gas to Tbilisi by half

By Dmitry Zlodorev


Russian foreign trade company Gazexport, a subsidiary of the natural
gas producer Gazprom, is expected to cut by a half the supplies of
natural gas to the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi as of March 15,
Gazexport sources said Wednesday.

The upcoming slash results from non-payments for gas over the past
few months, with the total debt reaching 7.4 million U.S. dollars.

Itar-Tass Tbilisi-based correspondent Ia Barateli said earlier
Gazexport supplies 1.7 million cubic meters of gas to the city a day,
and if the local operator of gas distribution lines, Tbilgazi Co.,
manages to pay 2.5 million U.S. dollars in the next few days, there
will be no slash.

In the meantime, Georgian experts say the problem of back payments
comes partly from irregular financing of Tbilgazi by the local
authorities. This finance should cover the cost of gas consumed by
low-income people, public health institutions and social facilities.

Alexander Ryazanov, a deputy CEO at Gazprom, gave assurances earlier
this month the company would continue deliveries of gas to Georgia.

He said at the same time Gazprom was concerned by the technical
condition of the trunk pipelines by which Russia was pumping gas to

“We’re worried by the lack of repair works at the gas pipelines in
Georgia,” he said.