Georgia has announced its intention to refuse to work with Gazprom, after a meeting today between US presidential advisor Stephen Mann, Georgian minister Avtandil Dzhorbenadze and President Eduard Shevardnadze. Mann later gave a softer version of the results of the meeting at a press conference. He said that 'Georgia hasn't yet taken a final decision about working with Gazprom.'
In conversation with Shevardnadze, Mann stressed that 'the US is concerned about the creation of a joint enterprise between Georgia and Gazprom, which would become the owner of Georgian gas pipelines.' He believes that the Georgian-Russian energy alliance will hinder the development of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline. Mann also expressed his concern over the forthcoming establishment of a joint Georgian-Russian company to renovate the Inguri hydroelectric power station and export Georgian electricity to Azerbaijan, Turkey and the North Caucasus. An agreement was reached on renovating and running the power station at a meeting in Sochi between the Russian and Georgian presidents.
Georgi Chanturiya, the president of the Georgian International Oil Corporation, who also took part in the meeting, was more openly opposed to working with Gazprom. He said that the expected investment by Gazprom in Georgia's pipelines (USD 200-250 million) was noting compared to the dividends that the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipeline would bring Georgia. He added that Georgia had committed itself to not carrying out any energy projects that would damage the future of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline or the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum gas pipeline.