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Kazakhstan/Georgia: Oil Arrives In Port Via Test Route

Tbilisi, 15 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Chevron Overseas Petroleum company says a train carrying 2,200 tons of oil from Baku arrived at Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi late yesterday.

Chevron is a leading partner in an international consortium that is seeking export routes for Kazakh oil that do not pass through Russia.

Chevron vice president Richard Matzke says 20,000 tons of oil are being transported across the Caspian Sea from Kazakhstan to Baku as part of an initial test. Azerbaijan's state oil company, SOCAR, has agreed to accept the shipments and deliver an equivalent amount by train to Batumi. Chevron officials would not comment on the transport route further west from Batumi.

Matzke said that if the test is successful, more than a million tons of oil from Kazakhstan's Tenghiz oil fields could be exported along the route in the next year. Georgia would receive duties of about $8.5 per ton.

The head of Tbilisi's department of rail transportation, Akaki Chkhaidze, said monthly rail shipments are expected to reach 100,000 to 150,000 tons.

Work is scheduled to begin early next year on a 960-kilometer pipeline that would link Baku to Georgia's Black Sea terminal of Suspa. Existing pipeline needs to be restored and some new sections would be constructed while Soviet-era pumps and other equipment would be replaced.