Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 84

Presidents Suleyman Demirel of Turkey and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine agreed yesterday in Istanbul on Ukrainian participation in the construction of an oil pipeline connecting the Turkish ports Samsun on the Black Sea and Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. The pipeline is intended to carry oil from Azerbaijan to international markets. The route overland to Georgia’s Poti or Supsa sea terminals, by tanker to Samsun, and by pipeline to Ceyhan represents a more recent version of the southern export route — via Georgia and Turkey — for "early" and "future" oil from Azerbaijan. (Interfax-Ukraine, April 26)

The initial version of the southern route ran entirely overland from Georgia directly into Turkey, also ending at Ceyhan and its large-capacity export terminal. This has generally been considered the leading option; however, Turkey and the AIOC international consortium in Azerbaijan have not yet agreed to finance that pipeline. The Samsun-Ceyhan project represents a short-to-medium-term alternative.

Should the direct Georgia-Ceyhan overland route eventually be adopted, a Ceyhan-Samsun pipeline could carry Middle Eastern oil on the shortest route to the Black Sea for tanking to Ukraine’s Odessa port. Ukraine and Turkey had discussed this route for some time in the context of Kiev’s effort to reduce dependence on Russian oil.

Also yesterday, Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov called on "all interested parties," specifically including the AIOC, to sign an agreement with Chechnya and Russia for piping oil from Azerbaijan to Russia’s port of Novorossiisk — the northern export route for Caspian oil. Maskhadov offered to guarantee the security of the 160 kilometer-long pipeline segment across Chechnya, and also of the railroad and electricity transmission lines which link Russia to Azerbaijan via Chechnya. (Interfax, Western agencies, April 28) The northern route, strongly pushed by Moscow and planned to have become operational last February, seems increasingly less plausible. Moscow itself — to Maskhadov’s chagrin — is building new railroad and transmission line segments that, for security reasons, bypass Chechnya, thus adding to the broader security concerns surrounding the oil pipeline. There also are indications that war-related damage to the Chechen stretch of the pipeline is far greater than Moscow or Djohar-gala admit.

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