Journalists commonly find themselves writing the same piece twice, but it’s pretty rare to do so with close to a ten year interval between the stories. But what’s happening upstream in Georgia — the mountainous wine-growing Georgia of the Caucasus — really is déjà vu all over again. The same script, the same backdrop, even the same actors are all involved in the same drama: turning Georgia’s oil fortunes around, so that the country is known as a producer in its own right and not just as a transit state carrying Azerbaijani hydrocarbons to world markets.
The decade-old story runs something like this: At Manavi, east of Tbilisi and home to the vineyards that produce prize-winning white wine, a foreign company has raised a load of money and is drilling a test well expected to yield a massive flow of oil. The geologist taking this writer around this field on the southern side of the Caucasus range is explaining that the underlying geology is the same as the on the northern side, where Russia produces large quantities of oil from a host of locations, notably in Chechnya and Dagestan.
“And once we’ve mastered the geology,” I seem to remember the geologist saying, “we can produce enough oil to end all imports and , indeed, turn Georgia into a useful exporter.”
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