October 12, 2017 / 1:38 PM / a year ago

Azerbaijan to cut oil shipments via Russia to 1.35 mln tonnes in 2018

BAKU, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Azeri state energy firm SOCAR plans to cut its oil shipments via Russia to 1.35 million tonnes next year from 1.5 million tonnes expected to be exported in 2017, a company official said on Thursday.

Azerbaijan sends only a small portion of its oil exports via Russia, using routes through Georgia and Turkey for the bulk of its crude shipments.

“The reduction in oil shipments (via Russia) is linked to plans to transfer a major part of Azeri oil to the country’s refineries,” Adnan Ahmedzade, SOCAR’s head of marketing, told journalists.

Ahmedzade also said SOCAR was in talks with Russia and Kazakhstan about securing additional volumes of oil for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.

The BTC pipeline, with an annual capacity of 50 million tonnes, is used to export oil via Georgia and Turkey from the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli oilfields operated by BP.

“Thirty percent of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is still free and SOCAR is in talks on filling these capacities,” he said.

Azerbaijan’s oil shipments via Russia jumped to 1.157 million tonnes in January-September from 898,048 tonnes in the same period last year, while Azeri oil exports through the BTC pipeline fell 7.8 percent year-on-year to 20.326 million tonnes.

The increase in volumes via Russia was partly because SOCAR shipped no oil via the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline in January and February last year, before resuming exports after signing an agreement with Russian pipeline monopoly AK Transneft .

Last year SOCAR shipped 1.2 million tonnes via Russia, down 4.8 percent from 2015. (Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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