CONSORTIUM ASSESSES EXPORT PIPELINES. Representatives of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company [AIOC] told journalists in Baku that the choice of the export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil will be decided on economic rather than political grounds, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 June. AIOC vice president Gregory Rich said the Baku-Ceyhan route favored by Turkey is the most expensive and would be economically disadvantageous to Azerbaijan. He added that the export of Azerbaijan's oil via Ukraine, although technically feasible, may be economically disadvantageous since the AIOC plans to sell the oil in question to southern European countries. Rich said he doubted that either Turkey or Ukraine could afford to pay world prices for Azerbaijan's oil for domestic consumption. On 13 June, Azerbaijan's parliament ratified an agreement between the state oil company SOCAR and a consortium of European and Iranian companies to develop the Lenkoran-Deniz and Talysh-Deniz deposits, Interfax reported.

UKRAINIAN PREMIER IN CANADA. Pavlo Lazarenko has signed several major agreements with the Canadian International Development Agency, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported on 16 June. Under one of those accords, the Canadian government will grant Ukraine $500,000 Canadian dollars for legislative reform. Another agreement provides for a grant of C$3.5 million for Kyiv's Technical Assistance Program Advisery Fund. Air Canada has announced it will schedule direct flights to Ukraine in the near future, while the Trans-Canada Pipeline Co. Ltd. of Calgary is to help expand and improve the existing oil pipeline network in Ukraine. Lazarenko also concluded an agreement worth C$150 million with Northland Power of Toronto to modernize the Darnytsia power plant in Kyiv. In addition, Commercial Alcohols of Ontario has agreed to conclude within the next few days a C$150 million deal on constructing a fuel-ethanol plant in Ukraine that would run on corn.

UKRAINIAN MINERS ON STRIKE. Miners in 50 mines in the Donbas area, in eastern Ukraine, went on strike on 16 June to protest delays in wage payments, ITAR-TASS reported. The total amount of unpaid wages has reached $800 million. A majority of Ukraine's 250 coal mines are reported to be on the brink of collapse. A committee representing the miners announced a general strike in the coal industry for 1 July.