On 30 January 2015, IMEDI TV hosted representatives of the ruling coalition and the opposition. During their debates, a member of the United National Movement, MP Pavle Kublashvili, stated: "Kakha Kaladze visited Tkibuli and declared that 17 blocks have already been gasified. None of them are. We started gasification in Tkibuli in October 2012 when a couple of households started to receive a gas supply."

FactCheck

took interest in the statement and verified its accuracy.

We have obtained two videos showing the visits of Kakha Kaladze, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, to Tkibuli. The Minister visited Tkibuli on 4 June 2014 for the first time. Mr Kaladze offered these words regarding the gasification process in Tkibuli: "The gasification process is being started. Some seven blocks are already gasified and they will be able to start using natural gas in the next two-to-three days. The town proper will be fully gasified throughout the period of 2014 and in 2015 every village where the central pipeline is installed will be gasified." The Minister visited Tkibuli on 8 July 2014 for the second time and notified the local population about the details of the second stage of the gasification process. He announced that it would take 360 days to have the second stage of gasification completed.

The second stage envisages the gasification of 5,107 customers before July 2015. The total cost of the project amounts to GEL 2,112 million. The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has approved the project which will be implemented by the Comfort XXI company which won the tender. A total of 89,206 metres of a natural gas pipeline network will be installed in the town according to the details of this project. The gasification of customers’ homes will be done by SOCAR Georgia beginning from the spring of this year.

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Georgia’s official website provides the following information in regard to the gasification process of Tkibuli: "The first stage of Tkibuli’s gasification was completed on 3 June 2014. A 1,292 metre-long distribution network was constructed and four blocks (230 customers), together with a hospital, a school and a court building, were equipped to receive natural gas. At the present moment, the second stage of the gasification process is being started. There are plans to build an 89,206 metre-long gas pipeline and internal distribution network. A total of 5,107 customers will be gasified. Gasification work is scheduled to be finished in 2015 at which time the town of Tkibuli will be fully gasified."

Apart from this information, an official gasification schedule for the Imereti Region for the period of 2013-2014 is available on the website of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. According to the schedule, only 500 customers in the Tkibuli district were gasified in 2013-2014; specifically, 350 customers in Tkibuli proper and 150 customers in the village of Mukhura.

In order to obtain more comprehensive information with regard to the gasification process in Tkibuli, we sent an official letter to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. As stated in the reply, 200 customers were gasified in Tkibuli in 2012. An additional 150 customers were gasified by the end of 2014. According to the schedule, gasification work is to be completed in 2015 with 70% of the work having already been completed.

For further information on the 70% of gasification work that has already been completed, FactCheck

addressed the Chief Specialist of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Mariam Khosroshvili. Ms Khosroshvili explained that the gasification process includes the construction of gas pipelines and internal distribution networks with indeed 70% of this work having already been completed. Following the completion of the remaining 30%, Tkibuli’s gasification process will then be considered as fully completed. Thereafter, SOCAR Georgia will be responsible for connecting customers’ homes to the gas distribution network. The process of the connection to the pipeline will be done upon the basis of customer request. Connection costs are covered by the customer himself and can be paid by means of an instalment plan.

FactCheck asked MP Pavle Kublashvili to clarify his statement. Mr Kublashvili explained that only three households in Tkibuli are gasified and they were connected to the gas pipeline under the United National Movement’s rule (September 2012). After that, not a single customer has in fact been gasified. As the replies of the MP and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources sharply contradicted each other, we decided to obtain some additional information regarding Tkibuli’s gasification. FactCheck contacted former and acting representatives of the local self-government (former Gamgebeli,

Levan Dokhnadze; Infrastructure Unit Acting Specialist, Zaza Zosiashvili, and Infrastructure Unit Director, Temur Kublashvili). They all declared that the population of Tkibuli is basically void of a natural gas supply.

Infrastructure Unit Director Temur Kublashvili stated that the gasification work had been done by the ITERA company which, to the best of his knowledge, did not even possess a construction permit. Therefore, the act of delivery and acceptance was not concluded which rendered further gasification work impossible. As a result, even though 70% of the work has been done, customers have not been able to connect to the gas distribution network and remain without a natural gas supply. According to Mr Kublashvili, SOCAR Georgia is about to start work on connecting seven places (hospital, school, court building and four blocks) to the natural gas distribution network in a few days.

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, the list of the gasified locations includes the Tkibuli hospital. FactCheck

contacted the Director of the hospital, Yuriy Eliashvili, and asked for his comment. Mr Eliashvili said that he has been trying to have the hospital gasified for almost one year. It has been hitherto impossible to complete the process as the gas distribution mechanism was not under anyone’s ownership. However, SOCAR Georgia took ownership one month ago which means that the gasification of the hospital will be possible in the nearest future (ten days).

We again contacted the Chief Specialist of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, Mariam Khosroshvili, and notified her about the inaccuracies in the information she provided to FactCheck.

Ms Khosroshvili clarified that according to her information 350 customers are shown to be connected to the gas distribution network which means that those 350 customers do have a natural gas supply. She promised to give further attention to the issue of the inaccuracy.

Conclusion

According to the information obtained from the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, 350 customers were gasified by the end of 2014. Of these, 200 customers were gasified in 2012 whilst an additional 150 customers were gasified in the period of 2013-2014. The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Kakha Kaladze, visited Tkibuli twice (on 4 June 2014 and on 8 July 2014) and both times spoke about the town’s gasification process. During his first visit, Mr Kaladze declared that seven blocks (instead of 17 as claimed by Pavle Kublashvili) had already been gasified and were supposed to start receiving natural gas in a few days whereas the gasification process for the whole town would be completed in 2014. However, during his second visit (after a month), Mr Kaladze notified local residents about the details of the second stage of Tkibuli’s gasification process and remarked that it would take 360 days to completely gasify the town with completion set for 2015 (instead of 2014).

Our research illustrated that the local population in Tkibuli did not have natural gas in the past and does not have it now (with the exception of three households). There were no new customers added in the period of 2013-2014.

Mr Kaladze asserted that seven blocks had already been gasified during his visit to Tkibuli in the summer of 2014 and that the natural gas supply would be available in two-to-three days. In fact, no customers were able to receive natural gas – not even those who had their gasification work completed.

FactCheck

will continue to verify the process of Tkibuli’s gasification and connection to the gas distribution network and provide information to readers as well as the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources.

At the present moment FactCheck concludes that Pavle Kublashvili’s statement: "Kakha Kaladze visited Tkibuli and declared that 17 blocks have already been gasified. None of them are," is MOSTLY TRUE.

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