Related: Georgia blames Russia for gas pipeline
Russia refutes Georgian allegations
over gas supply
MOSCOW, Jan. 22
(Xinhuanet) -- Russian natural gas supplies to neighboring Georgia and Armenia
were halted early Sunday after two explosions ripped through a gas pipeline
linking Russia and Georgia, forcing the two affected countries to look for
alternative sources of energy.
A Russian soldier guards part of
the Mozdok-Tbilisi pipeline, twisted by a blast, near the village of
Nizhni Lars in North Ossetia. Russian natural gas supplies to neighboring
Georgia and Armenia were halted early Sunday after two explosions ripped
through a gas pipeline linking Russia and Georgia.(Xinhua/AFP
"A sharp drop in pressure was reported in the
Mozdok-Tbilisi gas pipeline at 2:55 a.m. Sunday (2355 GMT Saturday). At 3:05
a.m.(0005 GMT), the pipeline was shut off," Vladimir Ivanov, spokesman for the
Emergency Situations Ministry of the Caucasian region of North Ossetia, was
quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
The blasts damaged the main and reserve pipelines on
the Russian side of the border with Georgia in North Ossetia, Ivanov said,
adding experts are working at the site to investigate the blasts.
The Emergency Situations Ministry said no one was
hurt in the accident and Russian consumers were not affected.
Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Shepel said
a criminal case of sabotage has been launched over the blasts, which were caused
by two explosive devices.
Experts estimated restoration of the pipelines will
take two to three days.
The Georgian capital of Tbilisi is using gas left
over in the pipelines and if no alternative solution is found, the city will run
out of gas, Tbilisi's gas distribution company Tbilgaz said.
A Russian television footage shows
the blasted pipeline. The blasts damaged the main and reserve pipelines on
the Russian side of the border with Georgia in North Ossetia. (Xinhua/AFP
The gas shortfall has prompted Georgia, which is
heavily dependent on Russia for gas supply, to urgently seek alternative sources
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and his
Azerbaijiani counterpart Ilham Aliyev discussed Azerbaijani gas supply to
Georgia during a telephone conversation Sunday, the Georgian presidential press
Armenia, which receives Russian gas via Georgia, is
currently using gas from an underground gas storage facility and has asked
consumers to cut back on gas usage.
The Armenian gas company Armrosgazprom's reserves
will be able to last till the pipeline is repaired if Armenians economize on
gas, company spokesman Shushan Sardanian was quoted by Interfax assaying.