Georgia soon to decide on oil transport-route
A new route to transport Caspian Sea oil to the West will be determined soon, pending clarification of "technical
details," Georgia's president has said.
President Eduard Shevardnadze said that discussions on the new route have entered the final stage.
"Georgia will feel the significance of that oil," Shevardnadze said.
The Baku-Supsa pipeline will begin pumping oil by early 1999, he said.
The US government wants oil from the Caspian to flow through a longer, as-yet unbuilt pipeline across Azerbaijan,
Georgia, and Turkey.
The US thinks that pipeline would bind those countries closer to the West, and make an oil route across Russia and Iran less likely.
Caspian oil reserves are said to be the largest outside the Middle East, but they remain relatively untapped because countries with access to them have been struggling to get the expensive projects off the ground.
Meanwhile, Turkish leaders said that the pipeline through Turkey would be built, insisting that the Bosporus Straits, through which any oil from the Georgian route would have to pass, are too crowded to manage the new flow of tankers.