The suppliers of the Caspian oil are interested in project "Odesa-Brody" less and less.
Last Friday in the capital of Azerbaijan Baku a regular summit on energy and energy security took place. Baku Energy Summit is the fourth in sequence after Cracow Summit in May, 2007, Vilnius Summit in October, 2007 and Kyiv Summit in May, 2008, gathered together two dozens of delegations, six of them - delegations from Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, were personally headed by the heads of the state.
The summit was a part of common interest and efforts to ensure
Europe's energy security against a backdrop of increasing demand and to
erode conventional reliance on Russia's energy by diversifying delivery
routes. European countries view the shortest access to hydrocarbon-rich
Caspian region as a best option for achieving sustainable energy
security. Azeri authorities on Thursday began to shut down most routes
as part of the stepped-up security measure on VIP arrivals.
The main agenda of the summit were a number of issues of mutual concern, including alternative ways of energy supply from energy-rich Caspian countries, re-exportation of Turkmen and Kazakh oil and gas resources to Europe bypassing Russia through Azerbaijan, reaffirmation of the support for the Nabucco pipeline, promotion of collective energy transit space and regional cooperation, sustainability of energy sources and routes, safety and protection of oil and gas pipelines, acceleration of energy projects and so on.
This was the fourth meeting which ended with the formal aim on the future of Euro-Asian oil Corridor (formed on the basis of the oil pipeline Odessa - Brody), on which the Caspian oil and gas should reach European consumers. In fact, the conversation turned not Ukrainian, but ... Turkish road show. Turkey but not Ukraine was presented to the participants of Baku meeting as the most convenient transit of Azerbaijani hydrocarbons.
However it should be noted that the symbolic recognition of the transit potential of Ankara as an applicant number one for Azerbaijani oil and gas pipe would be impossible if not for one small but very significant nuance. Turkey had received its promising status, in general, suddenly - due to the Russia - EU summit, in anticipation of which Moscow and Brussels have traditionally exchanged a pair of sharp statements on energy topics.
Russia, in particular, announced about the establishment of inconvenient for Europe gas cartel, together with Qatar and Iran, as well as about the decision to freeze pipeline "Nord Stream" if prospects for its use are vague. The European Union in response confirmed previously expressed intentions to diversify supplies of oil and gas away from Russia's monopoly and once again drew particular attention to the speedy implementation of the project "Southern gas corridor" on delivery of fuel to Europe from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq and Egypt by transit through Turkey. In this regard, the views of interested observers once again rushed to already forgotten project - the construction of the pipeline Nabucco (Caspian Sea - Turkey - Europe) and continue filling Transcaspian pipe (from Turkmenistan through Azerbaijan and Turkey to Europe). By the way, "Nabucco" will comes into operation by 2013, according to the vEuropean side.
Amid renewed criticism of Russia by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, the Turkish leader Abdullah Gul steered clear of inflammatory rhetoric toward Turkey's historical rival Moscow. However, he emphasized NATO member Turkey's desire for a greater diplomatic role in the region, after his government earlier proposed a new forum for cooperation in the South Caucasus.
"The crisis which broke out last August in Georgia confirmed that unsolved conflicts in the region constitute a major threat from the perspective of security and stability," he said. "Our idea is to transform the South Caucasus from a region that is known for its conflicts to a region that would set an example for cooperation." Turkey, a close US ally, has become a growing player in the Middle East and Caucasus energy trade. It has a long history of involvement in the Caucasus, as well as close linguistic and cultural links with Azerbaijan. Russia made clear during the August war in Georgia that it is the primary strategic power in the Caucasus.
Saakashvili condemned Russia during the war over South Ossetia, which he launched by attacking the region's capital. "This was clearly meant to send a warning to Europe that no matter what, Russia wants to control Europe's energy supplies," he said.
The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine have long discussed plans to strengthen the corridor of energy routes that passes from the energy-rich Caspian toward Europe, but Friday's meeting was the first time they were joined by Turkey.
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the conflict in Georgia had shown "how important it is for Europe to diversify sources of supply" and predicted that Washington would remain engaged in the region under Obama. "It is my firm belief that these efforts and this region of the world will also be a priority for the next administration," he said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, whose energy-rich country is at the center of the group's efforts, said he was "looking forward to establishing broader energy partnerships in the region."
He singled out a project to extend Ukraine's Odessa-Brody oil pipeline to allow shipments to Poland's Baltic Sea port of Gdansk as having "good potential." A feasibility study on the project is to be completed by the end of the year.
Backed by Western governments, international energy firms have invested heavily in building oil and gas pipelines from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey, and then on to hungry Western markets. The European Union is hoping to connect the network to its flagship Nabucco gas pipeline and both the EU and US are backing efforts to link Central Asian countries to the network through a trans-Caspian pipeline, according to AFP.
What is the role of Ukraine in the energy corridor? It is not clear. Under the conditions when the European Union and fuel suppliers (Azerbaijan) are on the side of the Ukraine's competitors, the future of "Odesa-Brody" is quite vague.
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