Ukraine and Poland sign agreement on oil pipeline from Brody to Plock

by Roman Woronowycz
Kyiv Press Bureau

KYIV - Ukraine and Poland signed an agreement on July 31 to complete an oil pipeline from the Ukrainian border town of Brody to the Polish city of Plock, located near the Baltic Sea. The agreement comes after extensive discussion and debate across the European continent, as well as in Russia and Central Asia regarding the financial viability of an oil transport corridor from the Caspian Sea to the Baltic.

The United States gave new impetus and perhaps the last-needed push for the project when its ambassador to Ukraine, Carlos Pascual, noted at the beginning of July that an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Central Europe would not only help Ukraine but would be a positive development for the global need for diversified sources of oil.

A report by a major international accounting firm at the end of spring, in which it reported that the oil pipeline through Ukraine could be economically viable, also helped move the project along, as did official support from the European Union.

The signing took place in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk with Prime Ministers Leszek Miller of Poland and Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine present. The two heads of government were in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine to take part in a Polish-Ukrainian Business Forum.

Oleksander Todichuk, chairman of Ukrtransnafta, which is responsible for the Odesa-Brody oil pipeline that runs through southwestern Ukraine, and Stanislav Jakubovsky of Przyazn, the company responsible for the Druzhba pipeline located in Poland, signed the documents forming the joint Ukrainian-Polish enterprise, which will oversee the construction of the new oil pipeline from Brody to Plock.

Developers and the governments of both countries hope that the pipeline will be the final link in an oil transport corridor that will take oil from the Caspian Sea through Russia, Ukraine and Poland via pipeline and eventually to Central and Western Europe via the Baltic Sea. The project is still the subject of discussion, with multinational petroleum concerns over who will fill the pipeline and how it will be used.

The previous day in Kyiv, during the first day of the two-day visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Miller, the two government leaders signed documents initiating a cost-free visa regime for Ukrainian citizens traveling to Poland and a visa-free regime for Poles coming to Ukraine, which will go into effect in October. Poland was required to establish visa regimes with its non-European Union neighbors in order to become a member of the visa-free system of the Schengen Accord after it enters the EU next year.

In Donetsk Messrs. Miller and Yanukovych also visited the Topaz Factory, where Ukraine builds the Kolchuha anti-aircraft radar system which last year was the center of a controversy between Kyiv and Washington over alleged sales of the system to the regime of Saddam Hussein - allegations the U.S. eventually dropped.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 3, 2003, No. 31, Vol. LXXI

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