Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 9

Senior Chevron Oil executives paid a three-day visit to Georgia this week to examine the country’s oil transport infrastructure and to consider possible Chevron participation in its development. Talks focused on the Trans-Georgian pipeline, which the international oil consortium in Azerbaijan seeks to use to transport Azeri oil westward. The transport route would cross Georgia and reach international markets via Turkey. The Georgian pipeline requires an overhaul and a new terminal on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. At a joint news conference with Georgian president Eduard Shevardnadze, Chevron Overseas Petroleum president Robert Matzke expressed interest in the project, as well as in developing oil extraction and refining in Georgia. Matzke pointed out that the Trans-Georgian pipeline could also be used for transporting oil from Kazakhstan’s huge Tengiz field on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, currently being developed by Chevron in partnership with Kazakhstan. (23)

The decision to route a part of Azerbaijan’s expected oil output via Georgia was made last October. Georgia’s significance as transit country for Caspian oil would become more significant, however, should Tengiz oil also be routed westward via Azerbaijan and Georgia. Such a route would also substantially reduce Kazakhstan’s dependence on the Russian oil pipeline network while increasing the west’s stake in these three ex-Soviet republics. The Tengiz-Georgia route, which involves the construction of an undersea pipeline from Tengiz across the Caspian to Baku, has been under discussion for some time. Prior to the visit by Chevron executives, Georgian state oil company president Gia Chanturia announced that the World Bank was considering granting credits for reconstruction of the Trans-Georgian pipeline. Chanturia told a Tbilisi briefing that former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker had garnered support for the project from international banks and leading oil companies in Baker’s home state of Texas. (24)