Cheney Fails to Garner Azeri Support on Nabucco Pipeline

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has failed to win Azerbaijan's support for the construction of a new gas pipeline from the Caspian that would bypass Russia.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev indicated to Cheney during talks in Baku on Wednesday that he did not want to anger Russia in the wake of its invasion of neighboring Georgia, Kommersant reported, citing an official in Aliyev's administration. Cheney was so disappointed that he did not attend an official dinner in his honor, the report said.

Azerbaijan has also increased flows of oil through a pipeline to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, the newspaper reported, citing a Russian energy official.

Azerbaijan is the starting point for the flow of Caspian oil and gas westward to Europe, bypassing Russia. The planned Nabucco pipeline, backed by the European Union, will bring gas from the Caspian region via Turkey to Austria and Western Europe by 2013.

BP's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can carry as much as 1 million barrels of Azeri crude a day through Georgia to Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Another BP-led pipeline, the Baku-Supsa, moves crude from Azerbaijan to Georgia's Black Sea coast.

Kazakhstan, the holder of 3.2 percent of the world's oil, is currently in talks with Azerbaijan and Georgia about the possible construction of a pipeline to send its oil across the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea port of Batumi, Timur Kulibayev, head of Kazenergy Association, said Friday.

The new pipeline from Baku to Batumi, an oil terminal in which KazMunaiGaz has bought a stake, may carry 10 million tons of crude per year, said Kulibayev, who the Astana-based private association, which includes Chevron and BG Group as members. If Kazakhstan does not get access to Baku-Supsa, a new pipeline can be built "quite fast," he said.