BP Sees Energy Independence For Georgia, Azerbaijan By 2012

Georgia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics that rely heavily on northern neighbor Russia for energy, could power themselves independently by 2012, energy giant BP said on July 21. Natural gas flow from the massive Caspian Sea Shah Deniz field "should be sufficient to satisfy the domestic needs of Azerbaijan and Georgia" from 2012, David Woodward, the CEO of BP in Azerbaijan said.

Georgia in particular has accused Russia of using Tbilisi's dependence on Russian gas as a tool for political pressure and has set diversification to other suppliers as a top government priority. BP this month launched the $4 billion U.S.-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline that avoids Russian territory by delivering Caspian oil directly to Turkey's Mediterranean coast through Azerbaijan and Georgia. The company and a consortium of Western investors also plan to complete the South Caucasus gas pipeline (SCP) that will traverse Azerbaijan and Georgia to terminate in Turkey, by the end of September.

Woodward said continued development of Shah Deniz would allow Georgia and Azerbaijan to wean themselves off of Russian gas early in the next decade through the SCP project, if they choose to do so.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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