TBILISI, Georgia, (AP) – Turkey has agreed to give up some of its share of a giant Caspian gas field to Georgia, allowing the small Caucasus nation to reduce its need for expensive Russian gas, the Georgian energy minister said Sunday.
Nika Gilauri said in televised comments that Turkey had agreed to transfer to Georgia next year 800 million cubic meters of natural gas it was entitled to from the giant Shah Deniz field off Azerbaijan’s Caspian coast.
The minister said that the price remained to be fixed. Georgia has faced a doubling of the price it pays for Russian natural gas and is seeking alternative sources of supply.
Russian state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom said Friday that Georgia had agreed to buy 1.1 billion cubic meters of gas next year at $235 per 1,000 cubic meters — an amount that falls short about 700 million cubic meters short the country’s expected demand for 2007.
Georgia now pays $110 for its Russian gas.
Shah Deniz’s operator, BP PLC, Friday said that output had been halted at the offshore field because of unspecified technical problems. Production began just under two weeks ago.
But output is expected to increase considerably over 2007 at Shah Deniz, which eventually should have a peak capacity of 300 billion cubic feet of gas and 2 million tons of gas condensate per year.
Turkey has been in talks on reallocating quotas from Shah Deniz with both Georgia and Azerbaijan, former Soviet republics, which are eager to avoid importing expensive Russian gas.
Energy supplies from Azerbaijan’s Caspian fields are playing an increasingly important role in the region, as Russia has dramatically raised prices for its natural gas.
Gilauri, together with Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli, will leave for the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, on Monday to coordinate all technical details of additional gas deliveries from the Shah Deniz field to Georgia in 2007.