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Media reports: Russia to try and convince Azerbaijan to back out of Trans-Caspian project

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Wednesday, April 30
Russia will try to persuade Azerbaijan to back out of the Trans-Caspian pipeline project when Russian Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov visits Baku next month, the news agency Regnum reports.

The project plans a Caspian Sea underwater pipeline to deliver Turkmen and Kazakhstani natural gas to Baku from the port town of Turkmenbashi, bypassing Russia.

Last year, Moscow signed a deal with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan that will see Russia double its Central Asian gas imports after rehabilitation works on a number of pipelines in the region. The agreement, Russian officials said at the time, dealt a powerful blow to the Trans-Caspian project.

Russian officials will now tell Baku that an existing pipeline between North Ossetia and Alibairamli, in Azerbaijan will be a cheaper alternative to the Trans-Caspian project, according to the news agency Regnum.

However, director of Baku’s Energy Research Foundation Ilham Shaban dismissed the reports as a PR campaign conducted by Russia, adding that Gryzlov does not have the authority to discuss energy issues.

“In reality Gryzlov is not so highly ranked an official to discuss these issues. It would be better for a GazProm representative to visit Baku,” Regnum quoted Shaban as saying.