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Friday, May 25, 2007

BTC still ready for Kazakh oil, despite new deal

16 May 2007 - Reuters – Azerbaijan's industry and energy minister has said that, in light of a recent pipeline deal between Russia, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, the country's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline is still available to transit Kazakh oil. Natik Aliyev's comments were made after he returned from an energy summit in Krakow, Poland on May 11-12. Under discussion at the summit were potential routes to transit oil and gas from the Caspian to EU countries. The Krakow summit was overshadowed by a deal agreed on May 12 during three-way talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev to build a pipeline along the Caspian coast. The pipeline will carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Europe via Kazakhstan and Russia, and further consolidates Moscow’s control of regional energy shipments. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman has said the deal is "not good for Europe." Aliyev told RFE/RL that he had expected Kazakhstan to work with Russia, but that Azerbaijan was still open for cooperation. "Going via [the Russian Black Sea port of] Novorossiisk, [the Black Sea port of Burgas], and then via [the Greek port of Alexsandroupolis] is the longer way, and oil tankers are more likely to capsize. But if the companies operating in Kazakhstan decide that it's better to join the BTC, to go via Azerbaijan, then we can arrange that," Aliyev said. Aliyev said that the Kazakh representative at the Krakow meeting "gave us hope, saying that Kazakhstan will do its best to transit its energy resources, especially gas and oil through 'the Western way,' too." Azerbaijani officials have said it would be possible to expand the capacity of the 1,770-kilometer pipeline BTC pipeline to make room for Kazakh oil.

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