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Alternative transit routes for Azerbaijan

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, December 31
Since Armenia and Turkey have started negotiating the possible opening of their mutual border and establishing better relations, Azerbaijan has started seeking new ways to transport its energy which would bypass Turkey. Konrad Zasztowt, an analyst from the Polish National Security Bureau, says that the Azeri side expressed its scepticism over the NABUCCO project when President Ilham Aliev stated that there are other alternatives. The analyst says that this statement does not mean that Azerbaijan will withdraw from the project but that this will be the Azeri standpoint in negotiations about it.

Of course Azerbaijan is not ignoring the Turkish transit route for its energy resources as it is the most attractive of the existing routes, but due to the improvement in Turkish-Armenian relations, and its refusal to include Armenia in any project it is part of, Azerbaijan is exploring the possibility of transporting its energy resources through other routes, Russia, Iran and Georgia.

At present Azerbaijan supplies Russia with 5,000 million cubic metres of gas annually. Of course this amount does not create big profits for Azerbaijan but could be increased at any moment very considerably purely by making a political decision. Azerbaijan is also connected to Iran by a gas pipeline and 7 billion cubic metres of gas will be exported there annually. However the Polish analyst thinks that it is unlikely that Azerbaijan will be much willing to increase cooperation with Iran, firstly because due to the global economic crisis it cannot sell the gas transported via Iran at European prices and secondly because this could undermine Baku-Washington relations.

The other alternatives route is through Georgia, with the oil and gas going on through the Black Sea and either Ukraine or Romania. During his Bucharest trip at the end of September Aliev negotiated the possibility of constructing in oil terminal in Constanca and a pipeline for transporting Azeri products there. Azeri oil could be transported to Ukraine as well, and some has already been transported to Odessa and from there to the Kremenchug refinery.

The possibility of sending Azeri oil through the Odessa-Brody pipeline, with a possible extension through Poland, is also being discussed. All these alternative plans will take time to be implemented however, and so everything depends on the Turkish position towards Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Karabakh issue.