Delivery of gas from Iran to Georgia is theoretically possible, and there is necessary infrastructure for this, but such contracts were not concluded between state companies, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Mariam Valishvili told Trend news.
"The Iranian side expresses its readiness to supply gas to the Georgian market. However, we prefer Azerbaijani gas, since it is the most optimal supplier [of gas] to our market," noted Valishvili.
Meanwhile, the deputy minister said that in accordance with the legislation of Georgia, such contracts can also be concluded by private companies if they decide that the Iranian supplies are acceptable from an economic point of view.
"There are no restrictions on such supplies," she said.
In July 2016, Managing Director of National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) Alireza Kameli said that Iran signed an agreement with the Georgian private company, Georgian International Energy Corporation to pump 40 million cubic meters of gas to Georgia.
According to Trend news, Meanwhile, Valishvili noted that Georgia’s pipeline system is in possession of the state, and private companies must present similar contracts to the government in order to obtain services for the transportation of purchased gas through the country.
There is information that one of commercial entities of Georgia has signed a contract for the supply of Iranian gas in 2016, but this contract hasn’t yet been presented to the Georgian government, she added.
The deputy energy minister said that it is theoretically possible to supply Iranian gas to Georgia through Azerbaijan – there are pipelines from Iran to Azerbaijan and from Azerbaijan to Georgia.
"It is also possible to swap supplies, that is, the contract is signed with Iran, but real gas will be supplied to Georgia from Russia, and Iran will, in return, supply gas to Armenia in line with mutual settlements with Russia," noted Valishvili adding that however, for the implementation of such supplies an agreement is necessary among all four countries.
"Such negotiations aren’t conducted. When we receive the contract, we will consider it and make a decision," added the Georgian minister.
Following the visit to Tbilisi, Head of General Department of CIS and Caucasus Countries of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran Gholamreza Bagheri Moghaddam has recently said that Georgia plans to realize gas purchase deal with Iran in a month.
Commenting on the issue, Valishvili said that even if the contract on purchase of Iranian gas will be presented to the Georgian government in the coming days, it is unlikely that it will be possible to resolve all issues within a month to ensure its transportation.
Azerbaijan has been the main exporter of gas to Georgia for many years. Moreover, in previous years, Georgia received from Russia 10 percent of Russian gas supplies to Armenia as a payment for its transit. Since April 2017, Georgia has decided to abandon Russian gas and fully switch to purchasing Azerbaijani gas.