TBILISI, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Friday he would put an end to the domestic energy crisis by Monday with the help of gas supplies from Iran.
After gas pipelines running from Russia to Georgia and electricity transmission lines in the country were damaged Sunday, Georgia was left without heating and electricity amidst record low temperatures. Russia has been repairing the pipelines, but the severe weather conditions are complicating the effort.
Saakashvili said several days of intense talks with the Iranian government had resulted in a contract on Iranian natural gas supplies to Georgia.
"Energy Minister Nina Gilauri has been conducting shuttle diplomacy and visited Tehran several times," Saakashvili told the government. "We have agreed under the contract that we will begin receiving gas from Iran starting on Monday."
David Ingorokva, the president of the Georgian International Oil Corporation, said the government had agreed with Iran to buy 2 million cubic meters of gas per day at a price of $120 per 1,000 cu m. Prior to Sunday's accident, Russia's price was $110.
Saakashvili said Iran's price offer was acceptable and added that Russia should know that Georgia has an alternative gas supplier.
Due to the gas and electricity shortage, residents of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi have had to switch over to kerosene heaters to keep warm.
In an effort to deal with the emergency situation, the authorities of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi provided 110 metric tons of cheap kerosene and more than 220 tons of standard kerosene at normal prices. Anxious residents had to stand in lines of 400-700 people long at each of the four gas stations of Russian company LUKoil from 6 a.m., the Novosti-Georgia agency said Friday.
Earlier, in an emotionally charged response to the gas pipeline accident, the Georgian leader said the move had been premeditated by Russia and had a political tinge. The Russian Foreign Ministry described his reaction as mere "hysterics."
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been tense since popular unrest brought West-leaning Saakashvili to power in 2003. The Georgian economy has continued to struggle since that time.