January 17, 2011
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Azerbaijan Likely To Acquire Stake in Russia-Armenia Gas Pipeline

A source in the Georgian government has confirmed information that the North-South (Mozdok-Tblisi-Yerevan) pipeline which links Russia and Armenia will likely be acquired in part by the Azerbaijan state oil and gas company (SOCAR), the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports.
According to Hurriyet, the newspaper's sources in Tblisi said "Because of the economic crisis, Georgia has decided to take the North-South pipeline off the list of strategic assets not to be privatized. Observers in Tblisi say the new owner of the pipeline is 99 percent likely to be SOCAR".
"Last month, the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev conducted negotiations on the topic with Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili", the newspaper's journalists wrote.
According to the article, this means Baku will control the tap of Armenian energy.
"Yerevan is seriously concerned that the gas pipeline may end up in the hands of Azerbaijan", the article says.
On 6 July, the Georgian parliament passed a bill in the first reading which excludes the pipeline from the list of strategic assets.
Pavel Kublashvili, an MP from the ruling party, proposed the pipeline be sold.
He said private investors were better than the state at managing any enterprise and "no enterprise should be an exception".
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