Headlines from the Caspian: June 7, 2022
Author: Caspian Policy Center
Jun 7, 2022
Energy and Economy
Azerbaijan Temporarily Ceases Black Sea Oil Pipeline Operations Due to Ukraine War
Azerbaijan’s main oil producer, BP, announced that it was temporarily ceasing operations on its oil pipeline to Georgia’s Black Sea coast. The company cited the inability to ensure the safety of oil tankers transiting in the Black Sea due to the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. BP said that the ban is only expected to last for the month of June. In the meantime, crude oil exports from Azerbaijan will be rerouted via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.
Azerbaijan Supports OPEC+ Decision to Increase Daily Oil Output
Azerbaijan indicated its support for an OPEC+ decision to hike daily oil output in July. OPEC and non-OPEC countries will ramp up output to 648,000 barrels of oil daily. According to the agreement, Azerbaijan will be expected to increase daily production by 10,000 barrels to 706,000 barrels. OPEC+ has been gradually increasing daily oil output after a significant drop in production during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iran Doubles Gas Swap Volume with Azerbaijan
Iran pledged to double the volume of gas swapped from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan via Iran. In 2021, the three countries agreed that Iran would deliver 5-6 million cubic meters of Turkmen gas to Azerbaijan daily. In exchange, Iran receives Turkmen gas in its eastern regions. It then supplies an equivalent amount to Azerbaijan.
Source: Caspian News
Uzbekistan Will Buy Power from Tajikistan’s Roghun Dam
On June 2, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon met with his Uzbek counterpart, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, to discuss energy and economic cooperation. According to the signed memorandum of understanding, Tajikistan will export electricity generated by the Roghun plant during the peak summer months to Uzbekistan. Former Uzbek President Islam Karimov was staunchly opposed to the construction of the Roghun Dam due to concerns of river flow disruptions. His successor, Mirziyoyev, has been more amenable to repairing relations with Tajikistan.
Kazakhstani Caspian Sea Ports Double Traffic Volume
Three of Kazakhstan’s Caspian Sea ports are doubling their shipping volume to account for an unexpected rise in cargo. The Aktau Sea commercial port, Kuryk port, and Aktau marine north terminal, all along the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR) are bracing for an increase in cargo by doubling traffic volume. Director-generals of the ports noted a growing demand for machines, wagons, and personnel.
Source: Astana Times
More International Shippers Reroute Cargo Through Caucasus Out of Ukraine War Concerns
The South Caucasus countries are experiencing a greater influx of cargo destined for Europe because of the Russia-Ukraine war. International shippers have been forced to reroute cargo transport south, through the South Caucasus, to avoid reprimands for violating international sanctions. Trade along the Central Asia-South Caucasus route, dubbed the Middle Corridor, is expected to grow six times in 2022 compared to 2021. International shipping companies and governments warn that rising demand will outpace infrastructure development in the region.
Security and Politics
Kazakhstani Electorate Votes to Further Strip Former President of Powers
Kazakhstani voters over the weekend supported a referendum to decentralize decision-making and strip First President Nursultan Nazarbayev of his constitutionally declared “national leader” status. The referendum listed 56 proposed constitutional changes. About 77 percent of those who voted supported the amendments. The Central Election Commission recorded a 68 percent voter turnout.
Armenia Amends Agreement with United States Over Bioweapons Cooperation
Armenia announced that it was amending a 2010 agreement with the United States that required the two countries to share vital information on biological weapons. According to the proposed “Comprehensive Law on Biosafety” Yerevan will no longer be obliged to provide pathogen samples to any foreign country. Although the Armenian government has not indicated any specific motivation, the decision comes amidst Russian accusations that Armenia is harboring secret U.S. bioweapons facilities.
Dozens Injured in Violent Clashes Between Armenian Opposition Protesters and Police
Opposition protests in Yerevan against Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s decision to jointly draft a peace treaty with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev ensued, turning violent on June 3. Demonstrators clashed with police in front of residents of top government officials. Over 30 police officers and 50 people in total sought medical treatment. Eleven protestors were arrested. Rallies and protests have been ongoing in the capital city since late April.
Border Skirmishes Erupt Between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
Kyrgyz officers accused the others of firing their weapons in an ongoing border dispute between the two countries. According to the Kyrgyzstan Border Guard Service, Kyrgyz officers fired at Tajik border guards after Tajik guards responded to a request to withdraw from Kyrgyz territory with gunshots. Two Kyrgyz border guards were confirmed wounded. Tajikistan has not yet issued a statement on the issue.
Uzbekistan Distributes Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
Uzbekistan commemorated its distribution of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan with a ceremony on June 2. Kits included foodstuffs and clothes. The packages will be delivered to Kunduz, Samangan, Takhar, and Jowzjan provinces, which experienced severe flooding a month ago.
Source: UZ Daily
(Sources: Astana Times, Azernews, Caspian News, Eurasianet, RFE/RL, and UZ Daily.)