Hydroelectric station on Georgian Military
Highway between Tbilisi and Mtskheta
The lack of significant domestic fuel reserves made the
Georgian economy extremely dependent on neighboring republics,
especially Russia, to meet its energy needs. Under the fuel
supply conditions of 1994, only further exploitation of
hydroelectric power could enhance energy self-sufficiency. In
1990 over 95 percent of Georgia's fuel was imported. For that
reason, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused an energy
crisis and stimulated a search for alternative suppliers.
The harsh winter of 1991-92 increased fuel demand at a time
when supply was especially limited. Oil imports were reduced by
the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, cold weather
curtailed domestic hydroelectric production, and the price of
fuel and energy imports from other former Soviet republics rose
drastically because of Georgia's independent political stance and
the new economic realities throughout the former union. Beginning
in December 1991, industries received only about one-third of the
energy needed for full-scale operation, and most operated far
below capacity throughout 1992.
Small amounts of oil were discovered in the Samgori region
(southern Georgia) in the 1930s and in eastern Georgia in the
1970s, but no oil exploration has occurred in most of the
republic. In 1993 some 96 percent of Georgia's oil came from
Azerbaijan and Russia, although new supply agreements had been
reached with Iran and Turkey. Oil and gas pipelines connect
Georgia with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and Turkmenistan.
Refinery and storage facilities in Batumi receive oil through a
long pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan.
Coal is mined in Abkhazia and near Kutaisi, but between 1976
and 1991 output fell nearly 50 percent, to about 1 million tons.
The largest deposits, both in Abkhazia, are estimated to contain
250 million tons and 80 million tons, respectively. Domestic coal
provides half the Rustavi plant's needs and fuels some electrical
power generation. In 1993 natural gas, nearly all of which was
imported, accounted for 44 percent of fuel consumption.
Georgia has substantial hydroelectric potential, only 14
percent of which was in use in 1993 in a network of small
hydroelectric stations. In 1993 all but eight of Georgia's
seventy-two power stations were hydroelectric, but together they
provided only half the republic's energy needs. In the early
1990s, Georgia's total consumption of electrical energy exceeded
domestic generation by as much as 30 percent. Georgian planners
see further hydroelectric development as the best domestic
solution to the country's power shortage.
Data as of March 1994