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  Friday, December 13, 2019
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Azerbaijan is beginning to methodically oust Russia from its oil market
It has been announced that the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan will stop exporting oil along the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline less than a month from now. The official explanation is as follows: the Azerbaijan international operations company plans to use this route for exporting some of its oil, writes Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The company operates the Baku-Novorossiisk oil pipeline's Azerbaijani sector and therefore has priority rights for using this pipeline in its own interests. Baku may only be putting up a trial balloon to test Moscow's reaction, but Russia might be ousted from the regional oil market by late 2005 if it reacts too weakly. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will start exporting oil in fall and is expected to pump more than 50 million metric tons of oil a year after completion. However, it will be hard to fill it to capacity during the initial stage. Consequently, Baku has decided to find additional oil for the new pipeline, which means Novorossiisk will stop receiving Azerbaijani oil. Reverse oil flows are, at best, possible. Sergei Markov, the director of the Institute of Political Studies, believes that Azerbaijan is not simply suspending sending oil through the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline to the north, but now attaches priority to Mediterranean oil exports. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline heralds the diversification of the entire pipeline network. The Russian route will gradually be frozen out. The expert believes Russia must, first of all, try to enhance its influence in other CIS countries, the former Communist bloc and Turkey if it wants to prevent this.
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