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Friday, June 22, 2007

Ex-Soviet Republics Discuss Oil, Trade

06.18.07 Associated Press By Aida Sultanova - Top diplomats from four ex-Soviet republics met in the Azerbaijani capital Monday on the first day of a two-day summit for a regional grouping seen as an attempt to counterbalance Russia's wide influence. The summit is the first for the organization called GUAM-Organization for Democracy and Economic Development since its four member countries - Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova - agreed last year to deepen ties and cooperation. Officials have repeatedly denied that the organization is anti-Russian, but three of the four members have had serious trade or other disputes with Moscow, and Russia is deeply enmeshed in unresolved territorial disputes in two of the countries. The organization also has garnered public support from the United States and the European Union. Several of the member countries have also expressed impatience with the Commonwealth of Independent States. The CIS is a larger grouping of ex-Soviet republics that is dominated by Russia. "Organizations are viable when they are founded on common values, on a mutual vision, on common principles. That's what sets GUAM apart from the CIS, and to those experts who would say otherwise, I would advise them to look at the common principles, the goals and the tasks that the CIS has put forth and look at .... those of GUAM," Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili told reporters in Baku. Azerbaijani energy minister Natiq Aliev, meanwhile, highlighted efforts to set up a multinational consortium to extend the Odessa-Brody crude oil pipeline through Ukraine to bring Caspian Sea oil to a refinery in Plock, Poland and on to the Baltic Sea port of Gdansk. Aliev said the consortium overseeing the pipeline extension, which would provide another outlet for European-bound, Caspian Sea oil to bypass Russia, should also concern itself with the best way to get refined oil products to European and other markets. Azerbaijan has some of the largest oil reserves in the former Soviet Union; much of the oil pumped from its Caspian Sea fields now travels via a pipeline through Georgia and across Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. "Right now the Odessa-Brody project needs Azerbaijani oil, but for us, the main thing is the conditions by which this can be realized; that is, what can the Odessa-Brody company offer us so that it is advantageous for us not to sell oil on the Black Sea markets but to send it directly to Eastern Europe," Aliev said. "What attracts us to Odessa-Brody? There are political interests, but it's necessary that that coincides with economic (interests)," he said. Presidents of the four countries are slated to meet on Tuesday, along with presidents from Poland and Lithuania, where interest in the Odessa-Brody pipeline is also high and distrust of Moscow remains strong

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lukoil wins Turkmen treble

13.05.2007 - Upstream OnLine - Russian producer Lukoil has won the three blocks in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian Sea, according to reports in Turkmen state media. Turkmenistan's President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov held talks with Lukoil boss Vagit Alekperov and, separately, with Bob Dudley, head of BP's Russian venture TNK-BP , state media said. It was not clear whether the unnamed blocks in the Caspian were thought to contain oil or gas. "I am sure that this process will be effective as we have professionally prepared for exploiting these unique fields," Alekperov was quoted as saying on state-controlled television. State news agency Turkmenkhabarlary said the companies expressed their wish to work in Turkmenistan but gave no further details.

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