Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 92

Turkish foreign minister Emre Gonensay will visit the United States May 19 and 20. His trip will mainly be devoted to mobilizing political and financial support for a pipeline to carry Caspian oil from Baku via Georgia to Turkey’s Mediterranean port Ceyhan, where it will be transferred to oil tankers for delivery to consumer countries. The 1,650-kilometer-long pipeline is projected to have an annual throughput capacity of 45 million tons and to cost $2 billion to construct.

The direct overland route to the Mediterranean would avoid posing safety hazards to the highly congested Turkish Straits. In the runup to Gonensay’s U.S. visit, Turkish energy minister Husnu Dogan announced that Turkey may have to take additional measures to limit oil tankers’ passage through the Bosphorus for safety reasons. Turkey considers the existing level of oil transit along that waterway — through the center of Istanbul — already risky to that city. The Russian ambassador to Turkey recently implied that Moscow wants Western oil companies operating in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to pressure Turkey to lift limits on oil transit through the Bosphorus. (Western agencies, Itar-Tass, May 10 & 11)

The Ceyhan pipeline would bring Caspian oil to international markets by the shortest, most economic, and safest route. The project is key to freeing Azebaijani and Kazakhstani oil exports from a possible Russian stranglehold, which Moscow plans to achieve by diverting most of that oil via Russia for tanking from Novorossiisk, which would entail costly detours.

Tajik Opposition Captures Tavildara.