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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkey Wants Russia Oil Cooperation

ANKARA -- Turkey has asked Russia to take part in a rival Turkish project to transport oil from rich Caspian Sea fields to the Mediterranean via a pipeline through Turkish territory, industry sources say.

The proposed pipeline between Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, and Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan is in fierce competition with a Russian option to carry the Caspian oil to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

"Turkey is not against the Baku-Novorossiisk option but is also keen to materialize the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline," a Turkish oil source said.

"In doing this we are seeking cooperation, not rivalry with Moscow. We propose that Russia's pipeline company Transneft construct a major portion of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline," the source said.

"Transneft is interested in our offer and we will see in the near future if there can be cooperation," the source added.

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller briefly discussed possible cooperation on Caspian oil and gas issues when Ciller visited Moscow last week.

Ciller said in the Russian capital Wednesday that the two countries had decided to set up a working group to discuss the matter in detail.

A consortium of Western, Azeri and Russian companies signed an $8 billion accord with the Baku government in 1994 to develop three Azeri oil fields in the Caspian Sea.

To export early oil of up to 6 million tons annually from these fields in the next few years, the consortium has adopted two pipeline routes, one between Baku and Novorossiisk and the other between Baku and Georgia's Black Sea port of Soupsa.

But after 2002, when full production is due to start, some 45 million tons of Azeri oil are planned to flow annually to international markets via at least one main pipeline. The likely candidates are the Russian and the Turkish options.

The consortium is due to decide on the main pipeline route in late 1997.

"The Russians are divided on oil policies. Chernomyrdin, who is from the energy sector himself, the oil and energy ministry and Transneft are sympathetic to cooperating with Turkey," said one Turkish diplomat.

"But the Russian Foreign Ministry as well as some advisers to President Boris Yeltsin are strictly against any non-Russian pipeline route from former Soviet republics," the diplomat said.

To bypass the Turkish straits in the future transport of oil, including petrol from vast fields of Kazakhstan, the Russians have considered the construction of a pipeline between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean through Bulgaria and Greece.

However, the talks have recently stalled due to Bulgaria's demand for high passage fees, Western sources said.