New prospects for a Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline (TCGP) from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan have been receiving deserved attention in recent months. However, another project to pipe energy resources from the western to the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea also demands attention, with implications that loom as large as those of the TCGP. This is an overland oil pipeline that Kazakhstan intends to build from the Tengiz field, in the northwest of the country, to the port of Aqtau in the southwest.
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Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have culminated years-long negotiations with agreements that increase the amounts of Kazakhstani oil to be shipped across the Caspian Sea, supplementing Azerbaijani crude in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Still more significant, redevelopment and expansion of ports on Georgia’s Black Sea coast now prepare the way for Kazakhstani crude to enter the Odessa-Brody pipeline (OBP), which will be reversed again so as to flow east-to-west, and so to reach world markets by way of Gdansk. This oil will come from the massive offshore Kashagan field or even the onshore Tengiz field itself.
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Ground was broken in Kazakhstan last week for construction of that country's segment of a natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China, set to be the longest and most expensive such pipeline in the world - its length is usually given as 7,000 kilometers, and although this looks like a rounding-up of a distance exceeding 6,500 km it may when work is finished be a more accurate figure than the most recent construction estimate of US$26 billion.
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The one-year anniversary of the EU's Partnership Strategy with Central Asia gets off to a slow start but is not without potential.
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