Washington Wants More than One Caspian Pipeline

MOSCOW (Reuter)–US Energy Secretary Federico Pena said on Wednesday that Washington wanted multiple oil pipeline routes out of the Caspian region–where US and other oil companies are tapping large energy reserves.

"We support the concept of multiple pipelines and multiple pipeline routes throughout the region as oil and gas are extracted," he told a news conference during his first visit to Moscow.

"It will diversify the energy supplies through the world–which is consistent with our own energy strategy."

US oil firms are active in Azerbaijan’s sector of the Caspian Sea and next door in the Central Asian state of Kazakhstan.

Several new pipelines will need to be built once projects in the region are at the production stage. One pipeline already planned will link Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oil field–under development by Chevron Corp. and Mobil Corp.–to Russia’s Black Sea outlet of Novorossiisk.

"We are encouraging the US companies that are involved to support the concept of multiple pipelines and regional partnerships," Pena told reporters during his visit to Russia to discuss oil and nuclear issues with top officials.

Possible new pipeline routes include one via Russia or through Georgia or Armenia and one through Turkey down to the Mediterranean. A route via Iran is not palatable to Washington–which views Tehran as a sponsor of international terrorism.

The United States also wants to ensure that Russia–which operates an existing network of oil export pipelines across the former Soviet Union–does not have complete control over future pipelines.

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