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U.S. Eager To Invest in Russian Oil

September 1, 2000

MOSCOW (AP) _ On a trip to Russia’s Far East, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Friday that American oil companies remain committed to oil projects in Russia and sought to downplay a controversy about oil pipeline routes.

Richardson met with U.S. business executives in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on Sakhalin Island and was expected to visit an oil rig and take part in an international conference on the Sakhalin shelf oil project Saturday.

Speaking to reporters, he emphasized that U.S. companies remain interested in the project despite the decision by one of them, Marathon Oil, to quit. Another project where U.S. business will remain involved is the Timano-Pechora oil fields in Siberia, Richardson said, according to the Interfax news agency.

Richardson, who also visited the former Soviet republic of Kazakstan earlier this week, insisted Friday that there was no competition between Russia’s proposal to export oil from the Tengiz oil fields through its territory and plans to move it along the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. Both projects are important and meet the interests of all sides, he said, according to Interfax.

Baku-Ceyhan is a 1,080-mile pipeline that is intended to carry Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. The pipeline, estimated to cost $2.4 billion, could be finished as early as 2004.

Russia, meanwhile, has lobbied heavily for the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline that comes through its territory to carry both Caspian Sea oil and Kazak oil from Tengiz, where the U.S. Chevron oil company has a prominent stake.

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