Armenians to Get Gas Via Azerbaijan for First Time in 30 Years

Gazprom PJSC will export natural gas to Armenia via Azerbaijan for the first time in almost three decades as the former Soviet neighbors work to reopen communication links following last year’s war.

The Russian gas giant’s export arm on Tuesday signed a short-term transit deal with Azeri state energy firm Socar, both companies said. Azerbaijan’s pipeline will be needed as the link that currently ships Russian gas to Armenia via Georgia will close for three weeks of maintenance, Gazprom said by email.

Armenia and Azerbaijan severed economic ties and communications in 1991 when they went to war over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenians took the region and seven surrounding districts from Azerbaijan before Russia brokered a cease-fire in 1994.

Fighting broke out again last September, with Azerbaijan regaining control of much of the territory. Russia mediated another cease-fire in early November, deploying almost 2,000 troops to maintain peace, and in January the Azeri and Armenian leaders agreed to work on restoring economic and transport links.

Under this week’s deal with Gazprom, Socar will receive gas from the Russian company and then deliver it to neighboring Georgia, from where the fuel will be exported south to Armenia.

Azerbaijan already sends its own gas to Georgia and to Turkey, having invested billions of dollars to develop its industry in the past decade.

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