Russia’s preferred routing for early oil exports from a massive Azeri concession in the Caspian sea to the Black Sea terminal in Novorossiysk may have taken the lead over Ankara’s rival proposal through Georgia, analysts say.

Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), the Western-led group which holds the $8,000 million concession, started debating the rival options on 4 September, and is looking to reach a final decision by 9 October.

Prime Minister Tansu Ciller claimed Turkey’s proposals were the most competitive, in an unusual formal statement issued in Ankara on 1 September. This could be seen as a last ditch attempt by the Turks to sway the decision makers, analysts say.