South Ossetia clash threatens oil supplies

TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The possibility of war erupting Friday between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia threatens key oil transit routes, analysts say.

Georgia lacks any substantial domestic oil or gas reserves, but sits along the primary transit point for oil from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia to Europe through the 1,099-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.


The BTC pipeline was brought on line in 2007 to bring about 1 million barrels of oil per day from Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, through Georgia and on to Turkish ports in Ceyhan. The Georgian section of the pipeline runs within 34 miles of South Ossetia.

Russian troops and tanks approached Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, Friday with both sides hinting at all-out war.

Security issues have plagued the pipeline circumnavigating volatile Iran and Russia since coming into service. The separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for an attack on the pipeline in eastern Turkey earlier this week, and South Ossetian rebels threatened to bomb the pipeline should a military conflict ensue.

The $3 billion pipeline is a point of contention between U.S. foreign policy strategists keen on moving Europe away from Middle Eastern and Russian energy dependence, The Times of London said, and Friday's near-war may have a significant impact on the transportation of more than 1 percent of the world's oil supplies.


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