The state-run energy companies of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have agreed to set up an oil transport system across the Caspian Sea to help move Central Asia's energy reserves to Western markets.
The system would use tankers and barges to bring oil from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan, the starting point for the Western-backed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline which bypasses Russia to deliver oil through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey.
Reports say shipments are planned to start in 2013.
The announcement was made as the leaders of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and senior officials from other nations held an energy summit in Baku.
Most summit participants signed a declaration backing the development of pipelines to supply Europe that bypass Russia.
U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said at the summit that he is confident the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama will maintain U.S. interest in Central Asia and the Caspian and continue efforts to diversify export routes for the region's oil and gas.
-- compiled from agency reports