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Tbilisi wants “explanation” from Chevron

By Mzia Kupunia
Tuesday, June 22
The Georgian Foreign Ministry has announced that it will seek an explanation from US oil company Chevron of reports in the Russian media that it allegedly plans to start extracting oil from the Black Sea shelf in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia in cooperation with major Russian oil company Rosneft.

The Russian media reported on June 17 that a document to this effect had been signed between the US and Russian oil companies. They reported that Rosneft is involved in two projects in the vicinity, one of them in Tuapse close to Georgia’s breakaway region. The following day the Russian media quoted a statement by Rosneft head Sergey Bogdanchikov in which he said that Rosneft plans to invest 1.255 billion Russian roubles in geological exploration works on the Abkhazian shelf. The company is hoping to extract about 60 million tonnes of oil and 30 billion cubic metres of gas in the region, the Rosneft website reported.

“According to the information [given by the Russian media] it is not mentioned in the agreement that the exploration and extraction work in the Black Sea shelf will be conducted on Georgian territory, in Abkhazian waters,” Deputy Georgian Foreign Minister Davit Jalaghania said at the traditional Monday press briefing “As Chevron is not directly linked with energy projects in Georgia, we are planning to contact them through our diplomatic representation and find out what the details of the deal are directly from company officials,” he added.

The Georgian side is “convinced” that “such an authoritative” company as Chevron will “treat both its reputation and international norms with care,” the Georgian Deputy Minister said. “We hope that the agreement refers to the legal territories of the Black Sea waters, where the activities of international companies are not limited, and not the occupied zones of Georgia’s territory,” Jalaghania told journalists.

Rosneft unveiled plans to carry out “prospecting, exploration and development” of oil and gas fields in the Abkhaz shelf in May last year. Its head Bogdanchikov said that Rosneft and the de facto Abkhazian Economic Development Ministry had signed a “five-year framework agreement on cooperation.” He added that Rosneft was coming to de facto Abkhazia "not in order to take anybody's business away." "We are coming here to develop the economy. There is a favourable tax climate here, which is very important for business," he said, according to