1,605-meter section of the 830-km BP-operated Baku-Supsa oil pipeline has fallen beyond a border marker banners that were placed at the administrative boundary line with breakaway South Ossetia by the Russian troops on July 10, Georgian Energy Minister, Kakha Kaladze, said on Sunday.
He said that Georgia has an “alternative plan” of by-passing the area that will be put into action “immediately” if the pipeline faces any “problems.”
Baku-Supsa pipeline, which is also known as the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP), runs from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa and has the capacity of transporting up to 100,000 barrels of oil a day.
Kaladze told the Georgian public broadcaster on July 12 that although BP has not been able to carry out on-the-spot inspection of this 1,605-meter portion of the pipeline since the August, 2008 war, it “has not had any disruptions and pipeline’s operation continues as usual.”
“If the pipeline faces any problem, we already have an alternative plan and there will be no problem whatsoever to implement this plan,” he said, adding that the Georgian state budget receives USD 7 million annually from this pipeline.
Asked if the recent border marking activity may be followed by the de facto authorities in Tskhinvali demanding fee for transiting oil, Kaladze responded that “nothing is ruled out.”
“But if we see that there is any problem in respect of this pipeline, we are ready to immediately implement new pipeline – we are talking about 1,605-meter section of the pipeline; this project is already in place and we will implement it if there are any problems,” the Georgian Energy Minister said.
Tbilisi said that “illegal” border marking activities by the “Russian occupying forces” close to the villages of Tsitelubani in the Gori municipality and Orchosani in the breakaway region in the close vicinity of Georgia’s major east-west highway resulted into falling of a portion of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline within the territory occupied by Russia.
If this border marking activity results into actual borderization, involving installing of barbed wires or fences, like in some other parts of the administrative boundary line, local residents of nearby Georgian villages will be cut from their farmlands.
“This is an obvious provocation, a deliberate provocation, a very dangerous provocation,” Zurab Abashidze, Georgian PM special representative for relations with Russia, said on Sunday.
Abashidze, who visited areas, where the Russian border guard forces placed banners, marking the “border of South Ossetia”, said that he would raise the issue when he meets Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in Prague on July 15 in frames of direct bilateral dialogue between the two countries, launched in late 2012.