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10/05/2004
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1) Armenia, Bulgaria Discuss Closer Ties Amid Growing Trade
2) Exxon Abandons Flagship Azeri Well
3) Rare Arshile Gorky Paintings at Paris Auction
4) Resettlement in Karabagh on the Rise

1) Armenia, Bulgaria Discuss Closer Ties Amid Growing Trade

YEREVAN (RFE-RL)--President Robert Kocharian and his visiting Bulgarian
counterpart, Georgi Parvanov, pledged on Tuesday to step up cooperation
between
their nations "in all spheres," singling out bilateral trade that has grown
dramatically over the past year.
Parvanov arrived in Yerevan late on Monday on a two-day official visit, which
is part of his tour of the three South Caucasus states.
"The presidents express their determination to promote the deepening of
political dialogue and bilateral cooperation in all spheres," the two leaders
said in a statement. It said Bulgaria, which is expected to join the European
Union by 2007, welcomes Armenia's integration into European structures and in
particular its inclusion in the EU's New Neighborhood program.
"Our commercial exchange has tripled over the past year," Parvanov announced
at a joint news conference with Kocharian. Economic issues dominated his talks
with Kocharian.
"Both sides noted that since my visit to Bulgaria last, there has been a
fairly serious upswing in our bilateral economic relations," Kocharian
said. "I
believe that the Bulgarian president's visit will also give a serious impetus
to that process."
He added that the Armenian and Bulgarian governments can build on that
progress by doubling or even tripling the current volume of trade. That,
according to Parvanov, requires the facilitation of the existing ferry link
between Bulgarian and Georgian Black Sea ports. Armenia uses it for trading
with Bulgaria and other European countries.
The presence of businessmen in the Bulgarian delegation led by Parvanov
underscored the economic emphasis of the visit. A special Armenian-Bulgarian
business forum was held on that occasion.
The two sides discussed regional issues including the unresolved Karabagh
conflict, with Kocharian saying that Sofia is contributing to its peaceful
resolution in its current capacity as the rotating president of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The Bulgarian government
has a special envoy tasked with facilitating the peace process.


2) Exxon Abandons Flagship Azeri Well

BAKU (Reuters)--US oil major ExxonMobil's hopes of a big oil strike on its
flagship Azeri offshore field faded on Monday after it said it had shut down
the first ultradeep well there after failing to find commercial deposits.
"We discovered that the first well on Zafar-Mashal does not contain
commercial
hydrocarbon reserves and we decided to shut it down," Exxon's spokeswoman
Leila
Rzakuliyeva told Reuters.
"It's premature to talk about drilling new wells on the field," she added.
At 7,087 meters, the well was the deepest in the Caspian and Azeri geologists
have said it was the most expensive too, costing Exxon more than $100
million.
The results of drilling on the Zafar-Mashal field had been expected to give a
big clue as to whether the Caspian country's shelf contained more significant
reserves or whether its potential has been overestimated.
Exxon's block is currently the only active new exploration project on the
Azeri shelf, despite the existence of over 20 production-sharing agreements
between Baku and multinationals.
The Azeri oil boom was fueled by the "contract of the century," when a BP-led
group agreed 10 years ago to develop three mammoth offshore fields, known as
Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG), set to become a major source of crude for a
pipeline to Turkey.
Oil will start flowing next year with shipments gradually rising to over one
million barrels per day.
The confirmation of ACG's reserves prompted many experts and Azeri officials
to forecast further multi-billion barrel discoveries. But investors have found
only one big offshore gas field in the past decade, Shakh-Deniz, while a
number
of projects were shut down after having failed to strike oil.
Many investors have postponed tapping their blocks, partly due to the
scarcity
of drilling equipment on the land-locked sea. Further gas discoveries will
also
raise questions about the import capacity of the only potentially attractive
neighboring market, Turkey.
Exxon leads the $3 billion Zafar-Mashal (Victory Torch) project with a 30
percent interest. State Azeri firm SOCAR holds 50 percent and US
ConocoPhillips
owns the remaining 20 percent. The block is 100 km (62.114 miles) offshore
from
Baku.
Exxon is involved in four Azeri projects and has already invested around $1.5
billion.
One of the projects is a 50/50 PSA with SOCAR on the neighboring Nakhichevan
field, where the first well discovered only gas several years ago.
Zafar-Mashal is the only Azeri block which was supposed to produce major
exploration news this year.
After having completed drilling on Zafar-Mashal, Exxon will send a
$250-million newly-built Lider platform to Russian oil major LUKOIL, which
will
operate it closer to the Russian border, with exploration expected to last at
least six months.


3) Rare Arshile Gorky Paintings at Paris Auction

PARIS (International Press Service)--A major three-day auction sale by
François
Tajan, who is among the most famous of Paris auctioneers, began in Paris on
October 5-7. On sale will be part of the massive private collection of New
York
art dealer Julien Levy, in whose gallery Arshile Gorky had a number of
shows in
the 1940s.
Among the more than 800 paintings and drawings to be placed on the block are
four paintings and eleven drawings by Gorky, a few of which are barely
known to
the public.
The scores of artists whose works are in the sale are: Hans Arp, Dali,
Toulouse-Lautrec, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernest, Fini, Lichtenstein, Magritte,
Man
Ray, Matta, Naguchi, and Tanguy.
The highest estimated price for any single item in the sale is a painting by
Gorky titled Pirate 1 of 1942, with a suggested price of 1,300,000-1,600,000
euros (close to two million dollars). Pirate II of 1943 is estimated at
1,100,000-1,300,000 euros.
Articles in the French press on this major sale have featured Gorky's
paintings, emphasizing the rarity of his works on the art market.
Marcel Fliess and his son David organized the sale and prepared the massive
515 page large format catalogue, "Hommage à Julien Levy." A couple of years
ago, Fliess also had an exhibit and sale in his own Galerie in Paris of
Gorky's
works from the collection of famous surrealist and a friend of Gorky, André
Breton.
The auction will take place at the Espace Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins, 75008
Paris. Information is available by phone (33) 1 53 30 30 30, fax (33) 1 53 30
30 31, or at <http://www.tajan.com/>www.tajan.com.


4) Resettlement in Karabagh on the Rise

STEPANAKERT (A1plus)--An estimated 23,000 people have moved to the Mountainous
Karabagh Republic (MKR) since 1994, with 150 reconstructed settlements,
according to chief of MKR department for refugees, migration, and resettlement
Serge Amirkhanyan.
He said that 623 people (120 families) moved to MKR in January and February
2004, more than in the same period of 2003.
Legislative reforms are also being drafted to resolve the problems of
Armenian
refugees deported from Azerbaijan in 1988-1992, Amirkhanyan said.


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From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress