A Black Sea terminal intended for the export of Kazakh oil has been ordered to shut down for 30 days by a court in southern Russia. The stop was justified with possible environmental damage, as the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday night. Most recently, there had been disagreements between Russia and the neighboring Central Asian ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan because of the Ukraine war.
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The operating company Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) is “forced to implement the court decision” but will appeal against it, according to a statement from the company. According to official information, the documentation for the emergency plan for the elimination of any oil spills is incomplete.
The authorities had originally given CPC until November 30 to eliminate the violations, but in a court hearing on Tuesday, the regional transport supervisory authority surprisingly called for the terminal to be closed – and was right.
80 percent of the oil exported from Kazakhstan flows through the terminal in the southern Russian port city of Novorossiysk – Kazakhstan does not have its own access to the world’s oceans. The handling capacity is 67 million tons of oil per year.
The President of the ex-Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, recently promised the EU oil and gas supplies. “Kazakhstan is ready to use its hydrocarbon potential to stabilize the situation on world and European markets,” his press service quoted him as saying after a phone call with EU Council President Charles Michel.
Kazakhstan could form a kind of “buffer zone” to compensate for the imbalances in the distribution of energy between East and West and North and South, it said. In this context, Tokayev called on the EU to expand alternative transport corridors – including through the Caspian Sea. This would allow raw materials to be delivered to Europe bypassing Russia.
Resource-rich, authoritarian Kazakhstan is part of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military bloc. CSTO units were ordered to the ex-Soviet republic after unrest in Kazakhstan earlier this year and helped the political leadership to stabilize the situation in their favour.
However, in Kazakhstan there are also concerns about Moscow’s influence. The Kazakhs fear territorial claims by the Russians in the north of their country.