How about this: set up the Caspian / Black Sea Mediterranean / Indian Ocean tanker territories as killer neutrals;
Caspian Sea tanker will connect: Ashgabat and Baku
Black Sea Tanker will connect: Tbilisi and Odessa
Mediterranean Sea will connect: Izmir and Cairo;
Indian Ocean tanker will connect: Abu Dabi and Mumbai
and they will work exactly as the Channel Territory in Third Crusade.
This will eliminate 15 tanker territories for 4 Sea territories: net reduction of 11 territories.
I would still keep the US 5th and 6th Fleets, as follows: Can be one-way attacked by any capital; are killer neutral; Sixth fleet can attack all refineries; 5th fleet can attack all terrorists.
In terms of territories:
Merge L'iv into Kyiv; Merge Dnipropetrovsk into Odessa; create Bucharest (coverning Romania and Moldavia) and Sofia (covering Bulgaria). This will keep Eastern Europe at 6 territories, but would make for larger territories and would connect Eastern Europe to Turkey.
Merge Beirut into Damas;
Merge Gilgit into Strinagar and give it to India;
Give Aksai to China;
Give Arunachal to India;
Eliminate Kashmir and Arunachal bonuses;
Split Aksu in 2 so China will have 10 territories.
The four Metropolises for the four 6 territory countries will be: Bucharest, Istanbul, Mashhad and Lahore, with 3 neutrals on each to start.
We eliminate the pipelines.
Revolts and terrorists stay as is.
Refineries can go down from 24 to 17, with the following being eliminated: Dniepopetrovsk, Istanbul, Makhachakala, Samara, Ashgabat, Shymkent, Altai (bonus armies: +2 for first 3, +1 for every subsequent 2)
This will bring us to : four countries of 6 territories; four countries of 10 territories; 17 Central Asian territories; 4 Sea territories; 2 fleets - for a total of 87 territories - 12 less than originally planned.
Since the Kashmir bonus will dissappear and the area simplified, the Kashmir insert at the bottom right will be replaced by a mini-map, with the following names:
Eastern Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Central Asia (4 countries south of Kazakhstan), China, India, AFPAK, Iran, Turkey, Middle East
On the main map, Kazachstan's border should be shown as a thicker white line, since it has 10 territories and gives the 1 bonus army for every 2 territories conquered within its borders. The other 7 Central Asian countries which are all separate territories give no such bonus.
A key question to decide is: should we give bonuses for holding an entire country? At this stage, I am still enclined not to. Let's see how the second version looks like and we can then decide. If yes, it would be easy to add the bonus numbers on the mini-map.
Natty, Evil, Helix, if you all agree with this, maybe pamoa, once he finishes moving and has some time next month, can take a stab at a second version of the map - and also take into consideration the color suggestions made above.
Thank you all for your suggestions and advice. And especially to pamoa who really does all the work!