Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 149

The Banque Nationale de Paris has agreed to open a US$70 million credit line for the construction of a second oil terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, Russia’s main oil export outlet. The French construction company Bouygues is set to serve as the main contractor for the project. The terminal is projected at an annual handling capacity of fifteen million tons and a size sufficient for accommodating supertankers of up to 200,000 tons.

Russia’s ONAKO oil company, which ordered the project, provides a small portion of the financing. ONAKO was responsible in 1988 for building Novorossiisk’s first terminal of such size. The second terminal is supposed to offset the investment within 4 years and cover its operating expenses, provided it is utilized at full capacity. (Energy and Politics, No. 25, July 23, 1998)

That does not look likely at present. The Russian government hopes to divert large amounts of Caspian oil to Novorossiisk–an insecure, long and circuitous route. Once there, the oil is supposed to be exported through the Turkish Straits. The plan has found favor with none of the producer, investor or transit countries. Turkey, for its part, is determined to block the transit of additional amounts of oil through the Straits. On July 31, Turkey’s special envoy for Caspian oil issues, Yaman Bashkut, warned in Baku: “Let no one have illusions that the oil will be transported through the Straits. The Straits are no pipeline. The opponents of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline must understand that.” (Russian agencies, July 31)