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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Regional Energy Summit to Court Caspian Oil

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- The leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland will try to revive a long-delayed plan to ship Caspian Sea crude to world markets, bypassing Russia, when they meet next week, a Lithuanian official said Friday.

Kestutis Kudzamanas, Lithuanian ambassador to Azerbaijan, said the leaders would meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Lithuania's Baltic Sea town of Klaipeda. "There will be an energy summit in Klaipeda on Oct. 10-11, where the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Poland will sign an energy partnership deal, which foresees creation of a company to ship oil to Europe," he said.

Ukraine has long advocated its Odessa-Brody project, running from the Black Sea to the Polish border, as an attractive alternative route to ship crude from the Caspian Sea to Europe, bypassing Russia.

But the pipeline has long been dry because neither Azerbaijan nor Kazakhstan has seen it as an attractive route, saying it would require multiple reloading operations, which would make business very expensive.

The link is currently working in the opposite direction, shipping crude from Russia for exports via Odessa to the Mediterranean market, but Ukrainian officials have repeatedly said it would one day start working in the designed direction.

Poland's economy minister, Pyotr Wozniak, said last month that he had an initial declaration from Azeri officials that Caspian oil would flow in the Odessa-Brody pipeline, which could be eventually extended to the Baltic Sea.

Azeri Energy Minister Natik Aliyev said this week that the Azeri state oil firm Socar could join the project.