03/03/2010, 00.00
KAZAKHSTAN – EUROPE
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Kazakh oil to reach Trieste

The presidents of Kazakhstan and Romania look at how oil from the Caucasus could reach the Black Sea for transhipment to Romania’s sea port of Constanţa and then Trieste. Kazakhs want to reduce their dependence on Moscow. Romanians want to become the gateway to Europe.
Astana (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Kazakh oil will reach Europe via a new route, “through the Caucasus, from Kazakhstan across the Caspian to Baku, then to Georgia via Azerbaijan, to the Black Sea and then to Romania.” From there, it would reach Trieste by pipeline, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said yesterday after talks in Astana with Romanian President Traian Basescu, who travelled home today.

Oil will be shipped through Azerbaijan and Georgia in existing pipelines until the Black Sea. From the Georgian port of Batumi, it would reach the sea port of Constanţa in Romania on tankers, and then flow by pipeline until Trieste.

This will enable Astana to reduce its dependency on Russian pipelines, which presently carry almost all of its oil to the West.

“We are interested in this and we agreed with the president (Basescu) to work together and give orders to oil companies involved,” Nazarbayev said.

"Romania understands very well Kazakhstan's need to open up possibilities for exports to the European Union because it is a huge market," Basescu said after the meeting.

“Romania,” he added, “is ready to cooperate with Kazakhstan in use of the Romanian infrastructure: these are railways, overland means of communication, Danube, [. . .] and the Black Sea.”

Although the two leaders did not mention dates, analysts note that Kazakhstan in the past looked at the southern Caucasus route, but put it off because of the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008. Now that relations between the two countries are on the mend, the project can be envisaged again.

For Kazakhstan, this is especially important because it needs new export pipelines to handle an expected surge in oil production after 2012 when the giant Kashagan field comes on stream in the Caspian Sea.

Kazakhstan averaged 1.5m barrels a day of oil last year and expects to double output after Kashagan comes on stream.

KazMunaigas, Kazakhstan’s state oil company bought Rompetrol, the Romanian oil refining and distribution company, in 2008.

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