TSKHINVALI, August 26 (RIA Novosti) - The newly-built gas pipeline in the former Georgian republic of South Ossetia costs 15 billion rubles ($476 million), a deputy CEO of Russia's energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had a meeting on Wednesday with South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity. After the meeting, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller gave instructions to launch natural gas supplies through the newly built pipeline.
"It [the Dzuarikau-Tskhinvali pipeline] cost 15 billion rubles," Alexander Ananenkov said.
Construction of the gas pipeline, linking North Ossetia's Dzaurikau village to South Ossetia's capital of Tskhinvali, started in December 2006. The pipeline stretches for 169 km.
Ananenkov added that Gazprom and the South Ossetian government had agreed to establish a joint venture to run the 70.2 km-leg of the new pipeline using the latest technology.
The distribution of stakes in the JV is currently being negotiated, but it is already known that Gazprom will hold over 50%, according to Ananenkov.
The Gazprom official said the Russian gas monopoly would build more gas pipelines for the republic, and gave assurances that natural gas would be supplied to South Ossetia through Russian pipelines for at least another hundred years.
The republic has so far been supplied by gas through the Agara-Tskhinvali leg of the Georgian Tbilisi-Kutaisi trunk system, which South Ossetia will cease to use as soon as the Dzuarikau-Tskhinvali pipeline goes to full capacity.
Georgia’s Foreign Ministry protested the pipeline’s launch later on Wednesday.
“The Georgian Foreign Ministry is voicing a resolute protest at another violation on the part of Russia of generally recognized provisions and international law principles, as well as Georgia’s territorial integrity, inviolability of state borders and national laws,” the ministry said in a statement.
Today marks a year since Russia recognized South Ossetia, and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent after a five-day war with Georgia over Tskhinvali.