The International Herald Tribune is reporting on a new wrinkle to the energy supply situation in European Russia in an article titled Report: Prosecutors call blasts on Russian pipelines sabotage.
Two natural gas pipelines running through southern Russia into Georgia and then into Armenia were damaged by explosions that occurred early Sunday 22 January 2006. Prosecutors in the area have blamed the events on sabotage. The implications of the supply interruption, which will apparently take between 1 and 3 days to repair are pretty severe. According to a Mosnews.com article titled Georgia and Iran Hold Talks over Emergency Gas Imports explosives equivalent to a bit less than a kilogram of TNT caused major damage that will require at least 100 hours to repair. Iran may be able to provide emergency supplies through Azerbaijan.
It is darned cold in Russia right now with temperatures expected to drop to -30 C over the next few days. Georgia relies on Russian gas for most of its heating fuel supply. Complicating matters further, a large portion of Georgia’s electrical power comes from Armenia, which produces that power by burning the gas that normally flows through the damaged pipelines. Neighboring countries are trying to assist, but they are already stretched in supplying themselves with sufficient energy.
UPDATE posted at 9:56 am EST 22 January 2006
The BBC has a very interesting and important article about the pipeline explosions titled Russia blamed for ‘gas sabotage’. Apparently Georgian leaders are accusing Russia for the act of sabotage, saying that the blasts occurred in an area patrolled by Russian border guards and no activity by insurgent movements. Not only were both the main branch and the reserve branch gas pipelines attacked, but also a major electricity transmission line.
- Gas Pipeline Explosion Unmask Russian Policy, Georgian MP Says – Prime News Agency – Georgia
- Georgian MPs And City Council Members Protest Against Gas Pipeline Explosion – Prime News Agency – Georgia