Dienstag, November 28, 2006

Energy requirements as aliance builder

The Iranian and the Russian trump cards: Oil and Gas. Even the fact that a pipeline country like Georgia had a US supported regime change doesn't mean it can ignore the basic facts of energy demand. So who will feed the Georgians hunger for energy?
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U.S. ambassador warns Georgia against long-term term gas contracts with Iran

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) - A U.S. diplomat warned Georgia against signing a long-term contract for natural gas supplies with Iran, but the Georgian premier reaffirmed Monday that his nation remained determined to import the Iranian gas.

U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft said in an interview published Monday in Kviris Palitra newspaper that Washington saw it with "understanding" when the energy-hungry ex-Soviet nation imported the Iranian gas earlier this year, but that a "long-term strategic partnership between Iran and Georgia in that sphere is unacceptable for us."

The U.S. diplomat cited as reasons the recent U.N. Security Council resolutions regarding Iran's nuclear programs and Washington's support of a gas pipeline from an Azerbaijani oil field, which would allow new supplies to Georgia beginning next year.

Russia's state gas monopoly, OAO Gazprom, has said it plans to charge Tbilisi $230 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, compared with the US$110 that it pays now, and warned that it would cut off supplies by Jan. 1 if a contract was not signed _ a demand that Georgia rejected as a "political blackmail."

Moscow and Tbilisi have been locked in a bruising dispute following the detention of four purported Russian spies in September. Despite their quick release, Russia slapped Georgia with economic sanctions and other sanctions, which Georgian leaders have criticized as Moscow's retaliation for the Caucasus nation's pro-Western course.

Russia is currently Georgia's sole supplier of natural gas, but Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said Monday that Georgia was planning to buy gas from Iran next year.

"As for our relations with Iran in the energy sphere, we will have such relations," Nogaideli said in televised remarks. "We will likely buy the Iranian gas."

Nogaideli said that U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew J. Bryza had told Georgian officials during his visit to Tbilisi earlier this month "that no matter what relations the United States has with Iran, they naturally can't ask us to freeze in the winter but not to buy gas from Iran."

Since Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's election in 2004, the poor mountainous country located in the strategic Caucasus region has turned Westward, seeking closer ties with the United States and the European Union.

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