Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharipov yesterday criticized the largest oil consortium active in Azerbaijan for “procrastinating” on the final choice of the route for the main export pipeline, destined for the “big” oil. The consortium, AIOC (Azerbaijan International Operating Company) tries to “make us forget about the main pipeline”–Baku-Ceyhan–by focusing instead on the existing Baku-Novorossiisk and Baku-Supsa pipelines, Sharipov charged. Reaffirming Azerbaijan’s strong support for the Baku-Ceyhan project, Sharipov urged AIOC to abide by the October deadline for a final decision on the matter, in order to commission the pipeline on schedule by the end of the year 2002. (Russian agencies, July 1)
Last month Ilhan Aliev, first vice-chairman of Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company and son of President Haidar Aliev, twice criticized AIOC for procrastinating and “playing games” with the main export pipeline (see the Monitor, June 12). The president for his part reaffirmed, during talks just held in Baku with his Romanian counterpart Emil Constantinescu, that Baku-Ceyhan constitutes Azerbaijan’s sole option for the export of the “big oil.” Constantinescu, notwithstanding his government’s and his own pro-Western orientation, lobbied for an alternative project backed by Russia’s LUKoil company. That project envisages transporting part of Azerbaijani “big oil” via Romania and Serbia to Central Europe and Italy. (Turan, Russian agencies, June 30 and July 1).
THE ABKHAZ WARNINGS A POSSIBLE BLUFF.