Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 177

A senior official of Russia’s Transneft stated yesterday in Baku that the company had that day begun repair work on the Chechen section of the Baku-Novorossiisk oil pipeline, and that it will need 22 days to complete the repairs. Acknowledging that the schedule exceeds the October 1 deadline, the senior official proposed alternative ways of shipping oil extracted in Azerbaijan to Novorossiisk pending completion of the repair work. (Turan, September 23)

In Tbilisi, President Eduard Shevardnadze took issue sharply with Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, who last week dismissed Georgia’s prospects of serving as a transit route for "early" from Azerbaijan. "Nemtsov displays wishful thinking, he presents his own wishes as reality," Shevardnadze said on national radio. (Georgian Radio, September 22)

Nemtsov last week also suggested other ways of shipping oil from Azerbaijan to Novorossiisk, pending the repair of the pipeline’s Chechen section. His main alternative envisages shipping the oil by tankers on the Caspian Sea to Russia’s port Astrakhan, and possibly up the Volga river to Volgograd, then pumping it through Transneft’s pipeline network to Novorossiisk — a highly circuitous route entailing costly transshipments.

Azerbaijani foreign minister Hassan Hassanov announced yesterday that Turkmenistan has agreed to Baku’s proposal to hold bilateral negotiations on median-line division of the Caspian sea. Delegations comprised of diplomats, lawyers, and oil industry representatives of the two countries will meet next month. Baku and Ashgabat dispute the ownership rights to oil and gas in an intermediary zone, notably the oil field called Kapaz by Baku and Serdar by Ashgabat. (Itar-Tass, September 24) Turkmenistan’s agreement to negotiate on sectoral division, and indeed its legal challenge to Azerbaijan in the first place, reflect a success for the principle of sectoral division promoted by Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan against resistance from Russia and Iran.

Georgia Creates Intelligence Agency, Diminishes Security Ministry’s Role.