The war in Afghanistan has overshadowed important energy developments in the Caspian and Black Sea region. In October, Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) started shipping oil from the giant Tengiz oilfield in Kazakhstan to the Russian port of Novorossiisk. And on December 19, the Odessa-Brody pipeline in Ukraine is scheduled to become operational.
The Odessa-Brody project was conceived in 1992, and offers an innovative way to get oil to the northwest, to the giant Russian Druzhba pipeline that supplies oil to Western Europe. Today, the Druzhba pipeline can handle 14.5 million tons of crude a year, and with the addition of pumping stations, it will be able to pump up to 45 million tons. A strategic bonus is the easy hook-up of the Odessa-Brody route to the refinery in Plotsk, Poland, and a further link to the Baltic port of Gdansk, from where oil be transported to Western markets.
The primary advantage of the 673-kilometer long Odessa-Brody route is that allows exporters to avoid major transit bottlenecks. As Michael Bleyzer, President of the Houston-based SigmaBleyzer Fund and an advisor to the Ukrainian state pipeline company said, "getting the Caspian oil through Ukraine to Europe is strategically important for the United States.
Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., is a Research Fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies at The Heritage Foundation.