Rosneft, Russia's state oil giant, will soon launch oil exploration works off Abkhazia's Black Sea coast, Abkhaz leader, Sergey Bagapsh, said.
“They are actually already starting it,” Bagapsh said in an interview with the Russian daily, Kommersant, published on October 13, adding that Russia's largest oil producer was now delivering equipment necessary for the works.
Rosneft and Sokhumi signed an agreement in 2009 according to which the Russian state company obtained the rights for offshore explorations and for development of oil and gas fields there.
At the time the deal was condemned by Tbilisi as “a clear and gross violation of the norms of the international law as well as the Georgian legislation.”
Abkhaz opposition was criticizing the plans, citing environmental concerns. Bagapsh, however, said in the interview with the Kommersant that all the Black Sea countries were working on exploration of their offshore areas and Abkhazia would not be an exception.
He said that according to Soviet-old exploration data offshore oil deposits were mainly located in area between Sokhumi and Gagra.
In September, 2008, then U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Russia not to “start exploring for resources” in Abkhazia.