Azerbaijan’s Economics Minister Namig Nasrullaev has just completed a visit to Poland for discussions on the plan to export Caspian oil via Ukraine to Poland, the Baltic region and Western Europe. The idea is to pipe the oil across Poland, from Brody on the Ukrainian border to the port of Gdansk on the Baltic Sea. Nasrullaev discussed technical aspects of this plan with the management of the Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG–Polish Mineral, Oil and Gas) state company. Negotiations will continue during Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s forthcoming visit to Azerbaijan (Rzeczpospolita (Warsaw), May 15-16; PAP, May 17).
Originally a Ukrainian idea, the Baku-Gdansk route was discussed at successive Ukrainian-Azerbaijani and Ukrainian-Polish meetings, most recently by Kwasniewski with his Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma in Lviv last week (see the Monitor, May 17). Ukraine’s role would consist of completing the construction of a large-capacity oil terminal near Odessa on the Black Sea and of the Odessa-Brody pipeline, which is said to be two-thirds complete. Nasrullaev’s talks in Warsaw signify that the proposal has advanced to the stage of operational consideration by Poland as well. The emergence of this alternative non-Russian route might help concentrate the mind of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), the international consortium now led by British Petroleum which is holding up the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project.
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