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Azerbaijan, Georgia Promote White Stream Hopes

Energy officials from Georgia and Azerbaijan, along with other stakeholders in a proposed trans-Black Sea natural gas pipeline, sought to rally international support for the project during a Tbilisi conference on April 2.

The project, known as White Stream, envisages the construction of a new conduit from the existing South Caucasus Pipeline to the Georgian hamlet of Supsa, near the Black Sea coast. From Supsa, a 650-kilometer-long pipeline would pass under the Black Sea's seabed to deliver gas to the Romanian port of Constanta. Another option calls for the pipeline to come onshore at Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and then proceed under the sea to Romania and further into Europe.

Georgian Prime Minister Nika Gilauri emerged optimistic from the conference to tell Georgian journalists that recent problems with Russian gas deliveries to Europe have breathed new life into the project. Gilauri did not elaborate.

Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, speaking during an April 1 visit to Georgia, repeated Baku's standard position that Azerbaijan has sufficient resources to supply the growing number of gas transit options via Georgia.

At the project's initial stage, Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field would be expected to supply the White Stream pipeline with gas, but the involvement of Central Asian natural gas powerhouse Turkmenistan is seen as crucial to the project's long-term sustainability. Turkmenistan, far more sympathetic to Russia than either Azerbaijan or Georgia is, has so far shown only a lukewarm interest in the project.

Source: Eurasia.net

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