Kazakhstan’s state oil concern Munaigaz yesterday reported 1995 total crude oil exports of 10.6 million tons. Of that amount, 6.9 million tons went to former Soviet republics, including 4.4 million to Russia. Only 3.7 million tons were exported outside the former USSR. The joint Kazakh-Chevron venture, Tengiz-Chevroyal, reported exports of 2.2 million tons to countries outside the former USSR and 0.5 million tons to former Soviet republics. (17) The figures fall well below Kazakhstan’s production and export potential and reflect constraints on Kazakhstan’s access to international markets via Russia’s pipeline system, on which it heavily depends.
Kazakhstan is looking at alternative export routes to bypass Russia. A four-year-old Russian-Omani-Kazakh project to build a new pipeline from Tengiz to Europe via Russia is faltering due to undercapitalization. Almaty now favors its demise despite Moscow’s attempts to keep the project alive for leverage. Last week in Almaty, Kazakh prime minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin and Iranian vice president Hassan Habibi discussed the possibility of exporting Kazakh oil via Iran through a swap system. A pipeline to the Black Sea that would cross Azerbaijan and Georgia offers a more promising option. Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Chevron oil company are currently considering an export route for Kazakh oil from Tengiz and Aktau across the Caspian Sea to Baku, and from Baku across Georgia to the Turkish Black Sea coast. If built, a Trans-Georgian pipeline would become a significant a conduit for Caspian oil to international markets. (18)