08TBILISI2426, GEORGIA: GAS PIPELINE TO TSKHINVALI SERIOUSLY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI2426 2008-12-19 14:19 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO0879
OO RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHSI #2426/01 3541419
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 191419Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0603
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 002426 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2018 
TAGS: ENRG ECON PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: GAS PIPELINE TO TSKHINVALI SERIOUSLY 
DAMAGED, GEORGIANS UNABLE TO REPAIR WITHOUT ACCESS 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  The Georgian Oil and Gas Company (GOGC) 
cannot resume the movement of gas to South Ossetia until 
unexploded ordnance is cleared and GOGC is given access to 
repair the gas pipeline which runs from Agara to Tskhinvali 
and on to Java.  GOGC has already repaired all the damage to 
the pipeline in areas that have been cleared of unexploded 
ordnance that they can access.  However, the Russians and 
South Ossetians have not given GOGC access to any parts of 
the pipeline within the disputed territory.  In order to 
return the pipeline to operational status, the mines and 
unexploded ordnance must be removed and access granted to 
engineers.  Only after the entire line is physically examined 
and repaired, and the pressure correctly increased to 
necessary levels from both ends of the line, will gas be able 
to flow.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (C)  Comment:  While it is easy for the South Ossetians 
and Russians to complain that Georgia is causing a 
humanitarian crisis inside South Ossetia by depriving the 
area of gas, our Georgian sources say that the ball is in the 
Russian court.  Neither Georgian government entities nor 
international organizations, including OSCE and EUMM 
monitors, have been able to access the separatist region. 
Therefore, it is impossible to even gauge the scope of the 
humanitarian situation in Tskhinvali and surrounding Georgian 
villages since the conflict.  Russia's commercial interest in 
possibly repairing, and no doubt assuming ownership/ 
management of the gas pipeline from Agara to Java, is not a 
surprise.  Russian companies have even expressed interest in 
&buying8 the Enguri power plant in Abkhazia, although it is 
not necessarily the property of the Abkhaz or Russians to 
sell.  With regard to the gas pipeline to South Ossetia, the 
Georgians argue that the Russians must first allow access to 
Georgian engineers and agree to clear away unexploded 
ordnance along the pipeline (to ensure the safety of the 
engineers and nearby civilians in territory they control with 
their South Ossetian allies).  Only after this happens can 
the pipeline be repaired and gas begin to flow.  End comment. 
 
WAR DAMAGE KNOCKS OUT THE PIPELINE 
 
3.  (SBU)  According to the Director of the Georgian Oil and 
Gas Corporation (GOGC), the gas pipeline from Agara to 
Tskhinvali remains down, as a result of significant 
structural damage suffered during the August conflict. 
(Note:  The Agara-Tskhinvali-Java high pressure pipeline 
branches off of Georgia's main domestic East-West pipeline, 
which in turn branches off of the major North-South gas line 
between Russia and Armenia.  End Note).  The pipeline was 
originally shut down on August 8.  GOGC explained that 
several fires and explosions near Gori damaged the trunk of 
the main domestic line.  Presumably, damage to the pipeline 
to Tskhinvali occurred during the fighting in South Ossetia. 
 
4.  (SBU)  Because South Ossetian and Russian forces are 
denying access to South Ossetia, GOGC can not access the 
pipeline to check exactly where the damage is located. 
(Note:  The Georgian Government, the OSCE monitoring mission 
tasked with monitoring the situation in South Ossetia prior 
to the conflict, as well as the European Monitoring Mission 
(EUMM) and all other international organizations, have all 
been denied access to all South Ossetian territory by Russian 
and/or South Ossetian forces.  End Note.)  However, because 
of unusual gas pressure readings, GOGC has been able to 
Qof unusual gas pressure readings, GOGC has been able to 
surmise that a significant gas leak exists somewhere north of 
the village of Dirby, two km east within the administrative 
boundary of South Ossetia and approximately 15 km southwest 
of Tskhinvali.  The pipeline is currently closed at the valve 
near Dirby. 
 
GAS LINE NEEDS TO BE INSPECTED AND REPRESSURIZED 
 
5.  (SBU)  In order to re-establish the gas supply to 
Tskhinvali and Java, GOGC says the entire length of the 
pipeline north of Dirby must be physically inspected.  Once 
war damage and leaks are repaired, the pipeline must be shut 
down at both ends and then re-pressurized.  The gas pipeline 
can only be put back into service after the pressure and 
integrity of the pipeline are deemed safe.  This cannot 
happen without the cooperation of South Ossestian and Russian 
forces -- something that has not materialized. 
 
UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE REMAINS SERIOUS CONCERN 
 
6.  (SBU)  GOGC is very concerned about unexploded ordnance 
near the pipeline.  If the pipeline were to be repressurized 
and gas begins flowing without clearing the ordnance, even a 
minor explosion could become huge if fueled by an unlimited 
supply of natural gas.  Such an explosion would endanger the 
lives of civilians living near the pipeline, as well as any 
 
TBILISI 00002426  002 OF 002 
 
 
GOGC staff working on the pipeline.  According to GOGC &
#x000A;Director General, his personnel could only inspect the full 
line with access to the territory and with assurances that 
all mines have been properly removed.  Given recent snows in 
the area, the ability to clear mines has been greatly reduced. 
 
RUSSIAN INTEREST IN REPAIRING LINE? 
 
7.  (SBU)  In conversations with the OSCE, the Georgian MFA 
mentioned that the Russian ITERA company has supposedly 
expressed interest in repairing the section of the pipeline 
that runs through the disputed territory.  However, this 
would require the Georgian Government to hand over control of 
the pipeline to the Russians, something it clearly does not 
want do.  In addition, government efforts to regulate and 
control the ability of international business to operate in 
South Ossetia and Abkhazia could also inhibit this kind of 
"investment." 
TEFFT

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