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Israel to profit from Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan project?

By M. Alkhazashvili
Tuesday, February 5
Israel took a step closer to becoming transit country for Azerbaijani oil, after the Eylat Ashkelon Pipeline Company “forwarded an international initiative to create a route for transporting raw oil from the Turkish Ceyhan port to East Asia by using its infrastructure in Israel,” the Israeli newspaper The Marker reported, according to the news agency Trend.

On a trip to Baku last June, Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Benjamin Ben-Eliezer met Rovnag Abdullayev, the president of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, and discussed the possibility of a deal to send Azerbaijani crude oil to East Asia.

This would see oil from the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline transported via tankers to the Israeli port of Ashkelon on the Mediterranean Sea, before flowing through the Ashkelon–Eilat pipeline to the Red Sea and onto East Asia. According to the Azerbaijani newspaper Ekho, a pilot transit using this route has already been carried out.

However, there are also plans for a Ceyhan–Ashkelon pipeline on the Mediterranean seabed, and a feasibility study into the proposed pipeline is underway.

The Ashkelon–Eilat pipeline was originally built in 1968 to transport Iranian oil to Europe, but was modified to become bidirectional after relations deteriorated between Iran and Israel, and Russian oil has been transported via the pipeline for shipment to Asia since 2003.