Socar to wait on Georgia for Black Sea shipments

BAKU Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:06pm GMT

BAKU Nov 12 (Reuters) - Azeri state oil firm Socar will not open its new 10 million tonne capacity oil terminal in Georgia until the country's state of emergency is lifted, a source at the company told Reuters on Monday.

"We have finished building the terminal in Kulevi, but its opening... may happen in the last part of November after Georgia's state of emergency is lifted," the source said.

The terminal, on Georgia's Black Sea coast, could be opened at a ceremony attended by the presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, he added.

Georgia's parliament unanimously endorsed President Mikhail Saakashvili's 15-day state of emergency decree late last week, which he imposed after police stopped a peaceful anti-government rally in the capital Tbilisi.

The Kulevi terminal will be used for refined products from Socar, later shifting to crude exports which will be transported to Georgia's Batumi port on the Black Sea.

Oil and refined products from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan will also go to Kulevi via Azerbaijan.

"In its first year of operation nearly 5 million tonnes of oil and refined products could go to Kulevi, after that it could go up," the source at Socar said.

Socar has previously said shipments could reach 10 million tonnes a year (200,000 barrels per day).

The Kulevi terminal was bought by the Azeri state energy company last year from a Georgian businessman.

Socar produces 5 million tonnes of refined oil products annually, 2 million of which are exported. Almost 9 million tonnes of crude oil is produced a year at its fields, which are mostly old. (Reporting by Lada Yevgrashina, writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman)