ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco Deny Balkan Pipeline Talks

ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco have denied claims that they are considering building a trans-Balkan pipeline to ship oil west from the Caspian and the Black Seas. The head of Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian Oil Corp. (AMBO), which manages the project, said last week the two majors are in regular discussions on the project, which envisions carrying 750,000 barrels a day of landlocked Caspian oil from Bulgaria to Albania via Macedonia.

According to a spokesperson at ExxonMobil, any involvement in building this pipeline is "very premature". There have only been preliminary discussions at best. "We always keep up to date on pipeline projects as they develop, but we have no current plans to fund any projects in that region," said a spokesman for ChevronTexaco.

The AMBO project, which has been on the drawing board since 1996, aims to bring growing oil supplies from Caspian states such as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bypassing the heavily used Bosphorus Straits through Turkey.