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Daniel Sullivan, the deputy U.S. secretary of state for economy, energy, and business affairs (file photo) (official site)
August 16, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The United States and Azerbaijan today signed an agreement to conduct a feasibility study on building two pipelines under the Caspian Sea.
Under the agreement, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) will give Azerbaijan's State Oil Company a $1.7 million grant to conduct the study.
RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports that the study will look into the construction of two pipelines: one for the transportation of oil from Kazakhstan to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline; and a second to transport Kazakh gas across the Caspian.
The deputy U.S. secretary of state for economy, energy, and business affairs, Daniel Sullivan, said the new pipelines represent a new phase in Caspian energy development. He also described the proposed oil pipeline as a logical extension of the BTC pipeline, which transports Azerbaijani oil to international markets.
"We think this is an opportune time to begin work on the next phase of Caspian energy development," Sullivan told reporters in Azerbaijan's capital today. "And it is appropriate that we are beginning that work and that beginning right here in Baku."
Sullivan, who arrived in Baku after a visit to Turkmenistan, added that the grant represents the largest amount the USTDA has given for a feasibility study in the region, which he said underscores the importance of the proposed projects.