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SOCAR aims to boost oil shipments via Georgian port

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 24 -- State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), after increasing the existing capacity for tankers, may begin shipping oil from its export terminal at Kulevi on Georgia's Black Sea coast in 2010.

“Tests are under way now and Kulevi terminal will be able to ship more than 80,000 tonnes of oil in each shipment on large tankers, beginning with crude from Tengiz oil field in Kazakhstan," according to one SOCAR offical.

The statement coincided with earlier remarks by SOCAR Vice-Pres. Elshad Nasirov that enlargement of the Kulevi terminal is needed as the facility is still not able to accept large-tonnage tankers for oil export.

“There are some problems as oil is oil is one thing and black oil is quite another. As soon as Kulevi is ready for acceptance of crude oil, it will work with vessel shipments of up to 80,000 tonnes,” Nasirov said.

The Kulevi oil terminal has a total capacity of 10 million tonnes/year of, but forecasts suggest that its capacity will increase to 15-20 million tpy within 2 years.

Earlier this year, Kazakh state-owned KazMunaiGaz and SOCAR entered into several agreements to ensure that the growing volumes of Kazakh oil will reach global markets.

The agreements visualize deliveries via tanker of Kazakh crude across the Caspian Sea, then to Georgia’s Black Sea ports of Batumi and Kulevi by rail and via the existing Baku-Supsa pipeline (OGJ Online, Oct. 12, 2009).

Meanwhile, SOCAR plans to use the infrastructure of its Kulevi oil terminal in Georgia to build a gas-compression terminal instead of picking a completely new site.

“It would be cheaper because the terminal is equipped with all the necessary infrastructure,” said a SOCAR official. “There is a railway, dock, labor, and all the required communications are already there. From this point of view, the terminal's construction in the area is a good choice.”

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