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Russian company buys Armenian power grid

In November last year Regnum news agency reported about talks between the British trade and industrial concern Midland Resources Holding Ltd and the RAO UES (Russia) [Russia’s power grid monopoly Unified Energy System] on the sale of the Armenian power grid. The press secretary of the Armenian power grid, Margarita Grigoryan, officially denied reports from a well-informed source in the company that the Russian holding would become the owner of the Armenian power grid in January 2005.

Meanwhile, Yerevan-based newspaper Aykakan Zhamanak reported on 12 February that a subsidiary of the RAO UES of Russia, Inter RAO UES, has bought the Armenian power grid from Midland Resources for 80m dollars. The deal will be officially made public in April 2005, the newspaper noted. Aykakan Zhamanak noted that the World Bank is roundly against handing over the Armenian power grid to Russia. The newspaper also alleged that “after the sale of the Armenian power grid, Russia will not be the only one to control them”. [Sentence as published]

To recap, an agreement on the sale of the Armenian power grid was signed in Yerevan on 26 August between the Armenian government and the British trade and industrial concern Midland Resources Holding Ltd. In accordance with the document, 80.1 per cent of the Armenian power grid shares were sold to the concern for 37.15m dollars. The British company was to pay 12.15m dollars for the shares and to allocate another 25m dollars to the Armenian budget to cover the Armenian power grid’s debts and to pay wage arrears.

The RAO UES of Russia owns the Sevan-Razdan cascade of hydro-electric power plants and the Razdan thermoelectric power plant and controls finances of the Armenia Nuclear Power Plant. The RAO UES set up the International Energy Corporation closed-type joint-stock company in May 2003 for the management of the Sevan-Razdan cascade of hydro-electric power plants, which was handed over to Russia to cover part of the debt for the nuclear fuel delivered for the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.

Finances of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant have been placed in trust management of Inter RAO UES, a subsidiary of the RAO UES, (60 per cent of shares) and Russia’s state nuclear power holding Rosenergoatom (40 per cent) for five years.

Probably, the sale of the Armenian power grid should be viewed in the context of the RAO UES’ attempt to synchronize the power grids of the entire region, including Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Taking account of the fact that after the commissioning of the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, Armenia will export electricity to Iran in exchange for the supplied gas, which is outlined in the major agreement, the issue of synchronizing the Armenian and Iranian power grids could also emerge on the agenda. Since the RAO UES is also the owner of Georgia’s major power facilities, one can say that the RAO UES is striving to synchronize the work of the power grids of the whole of the region, including Armenia, Georgia and even Turkey in the future.

Source: Regnum, Moscow

BBC Monitoring

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