17 Nov 2023 15:22

Abkhazia tightens control over electricity consumption

SUKHUM. Nov 17 (Interfax) - Abkhazia is intensifying measures to counter cryptocurrency mining, and law enforcement officers have been tasked with seizing and scrapping mining equipment, Sukhum administration head Beslan Eshba said.

"Russia has been supplying electricity to Abkhazia on a commercial basis since the beginning of November due to a deficit of electricity," Eshba said at a meeting of the operational headquarters for responding to illegal cryptocurrency mining.

The Abkhaz budget spends millions on this, he said.

"Hence, control over electricity consumption has been tightened," Eshba said.

He ordered joint surprise checks on industrial enterprises and private houses to find the location of cryptocurrency mining equipment.

The operational headquarters is conducting the checks with the participation of specialists from the State Committee for Standards, the Sukhum Department for Power Grids, the police, and district administrations, Eshba said.

Abkhaz Deputy Prime Minister, Economy Minister Kristina Ozgan said earlier that Russia had been supplying electricity to Abkhazia on a commercial basis since November 5 to compensate for the deficit. She also said that Russia supplied electricity worth around six billion rubles to Abkhazia for free between 2020 and the first quarter of 2023.

"Abkhazia cannot solve the electricity problem with Russian social assistance, it will have to pay for electricity," Ozgan said.

"The first contract has been concluded with Inter RAO for the delivery of 30 million kW/h of electricity for 135 million rubles," she said.

"The second contract for the delivery of 50 million Kw/h of electricity worth 200 million rubles has been drafted. We have yet to compensate for the electricity deficit in December, so we are working on solutions and will make corresponding decisions," Ozgan said.

Some of the electricity deficit expected in the first quarter of 2024 is covered by an action plan, coordinated with Russia. It will be compensated for with social supplies, while additional deliveries will be a matter of negotiations, she said.

According to preliminary information from the Abkhaz Economy Ministry, around 900 million rubles will be needed to cover Abkhazia's electricity deficit.

The Chernomorenergo Abkhaz energy company estimates annual consumption of electricity at roughly three billion kW/h, including two billion kW/h from the Inguri HPP on the Abkhaz-Georgian border.

Given the absence of a centralized heating and gas supply, Abkhazia's power grids come under strain in fall and winter, which causes frequent accidents at substations and power transmission lines.