SOCAR to double capacity at Kulevi port in Georgia

Eric Watkins
OGJ oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Apr. 30 -- State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) will begin a major expansion of its oil export terminal at Kulevi on Georgia’s Black Sea coastline, according to a senior executive of the firm.

The expansion is aimed at doubling the port’s throughput capacity from the current 10 million tonnes/year to 20 million tpy, possibly by yearend 2011, according to Ilham Nasirov, the managing director for SOCAR of BTC-Azerbaijan.

Nasirov told a conference in Aktau, Kazakhstan’s port city on the Caspian Sea, that the expansion includes a single-point mooring buoy to handle tankers as large as 120,000 dwt, new offshore pipelines, a pump station, a control room, and expansion of rail capacity.

Nazirov’s announcement follows a report in November 2009 that 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 official (OGJ, Nov. 24, 2009).

Nasirov’s announcement also follows reports last month that Kulevi Seaport inaugurated negotiations with Chevron Corp. about handling the oil it produces in Kazakhstan.

“We are conducting intense negotiations with Chevron,” said Jani Katamadze, manager of Kulevi Seaport. “If the negotiations end positively, Kazakh oil will be transported through the Kulevi oil terminal,” said Katamadze, who declined to speculate on the amount of Chevron oil his port might handle.

However, Vagif Aliyev, the head of the SOCAR investment management department and chairman of the Cross Caspian’s board, said in February that an oil trans-shippment contract had been signed by TengizChevroil and Cross Caspian.

Aliyev said the contract was for oil transportation through Georgia’s ports of Batumi and Kulevi. At the time, Aliyev indicated that Kulevi would carry 4-5 million tpy of Chevron oil.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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