Black Gold
Photographs by Vincent Prado
Text by Dimitri Beck
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There are many cultural and geographical considerations to take into account when considering what is the best way to transport oil from the Caspian sea to markets in the West. Western nations and Russia are locked in competition as they explore a variety of alternatives for openning up a reliable and cheap route that will amount to billions of dollars in revenue. "We should be able to modify our exportation routes very easily", says Mike Kangas of Tengizchevroil in Kazakhstan. "Be it by kilometer-long tanker wagon convoys, pipeline or boat, the major companies should have at their disposal routes that are economically profitable and politically stable. To each his own".

Americans support the Transcaspian axis and especially the Bakou-Ceyhan pipeline project via the Transcaucasian corridor that opens into the Turkish port in the Mediterranean Sea and therefore avoids Russia and Iran. The Iranian route, known as "the Southern Route", is still not an option for Washington even if it ends up in the Persian Gulf. Nevertheless, many other countries, such as France, have already started to explore this alternative. As for the Northern route across Russia, it will allow the transportation of the Kazakh oil from Tenzig to the Russian port of Novorossïisk on the Black Sea.

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