Astana and Washington discuss Kazakh participation in BTC project

Oct 10, 2001 02:00 AM

According to Larry Napper, the US ambassador to Kazakhstan, officials in Astana and Washington are discussing plans for Kazakhstani participation in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline project. Kazakhstan's government is interested in seeing locally produced oil exported along the BTC route, Napper stated. Kazakhstani oil would be loaded onto tankers at the port of Aktau and shipped across the Caspian Sea to Baku for loading into the BTC line, he said.
This would in effect create an Aktau-Baku-Ceyhan, or ABC, export route for Caspian oil, he said. He did note that several international oil companies working in Kazakhstan had expressed willingness to export part of their output via the ABC route.

The US government is eager to see Kazakhstan play a role in the BTC project on the grounds that Kazakhstani oil is needed to ensure that the pipe is filled to capacity. Industry experts have said that the pipeline will not be profitable unless it carries at least 1 mm bpd of crude. Azerbaijan asserts that its oil deposits hold enough to fill the pipeline, but Western experts are doubtful since several of the international consortia working in that country's sector of the Caspian have not succeeding in finding oil.
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, has been reluctant to heed US pressure to make BTC its main oil export route. Officials in Astana have said they will not rule out any export option -- including Iranian swap arrangements, which have garnered criticism in Washington.

Meanwhile, the only existing high-capacity export routes for Kazakhstani oil pass through Russia. The Soviet-built Atyrau-Orsk-Samara pipeline can carry about 15 mm tpy of crude, and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) expects to open the Tengiz-Novorossiisk pipeline later this month. The CPC line will initially be able to carry 28 mm tpy of crude oil, with capacity eventually rising to 67 mm tpy.

Source: NewsBase
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