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Azerbaijan to diversify oil flows to Europe, Asia in '12

Azerbaijan plans to increase supplies of crude oil to European and Asian markets in 2012 in a move to diversify its energy exports.

Azeri state energy company SOCAR said on Wednesday it was ready to export about 2 million tonnes of oil to Czech Kralupy refinery and the same amount to two refineries in Ukraine in 2012, and could add Slovakia to its clientele.

"We are talking about Azeri Light deliveries in the amount of about 2 million tonnes per year to Kralupy," Elshad Nassirov, SOCAR vice-president, told reporters.

He added the sides were about to sign a final contract.

"We will continue oil deliveries to two refineries in Ukraine in the amount of 2 million tonnes in 2012, the same as in 2011," Nassirov said.

He said SOCAR was also in talks with Slovak officials about oil deliveries to their country next year.

"We are talking about it ... It's a complicated process," he said, without elaborating.

Ex-Soviet republics as well as countries in Europe are trying to reduce their energy dependence on Russia and are looking for alternative energy supplies and supply routes.

Azerbaijan said on Tuesday it would reduce crude exports via Russia to 1.7 million tonnes in 2012 from a planned 2.0 million tonnes this year due to an increase in the consumption of oil products in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan ships oil to Ukraine via the Odessa-Brody pipeline and may deliver it to the Czech refinery via one of the branches of the Druzhba pipeline.

SUPPLIES TO ASIA

Nassirov said Azerbaijan would also continue crude deliveries to India and China.

"We will continue supplies to India and other countries in Asia, particularly China, next year," he said.

"We are talking about several million tonnes of oil per year," he said.

Azerbaijan started oil supplies to India in this year.

Nassirov did not specify crude volumes, which had already been shipped to India or other countries in Asia.

"These are reliable and solvent markets and we want to continue our successful cooperation with them," Nassirov said.

SOCAR has not issued a forecast for total oil exports this year, but last year it exported 32 million tonnes out of total production of 50.8 million tonnes, with the BP-led Baku-Ceyhan pipeline its main outlet.

Crude is shipped from Ceyhan to the markets in Asia by tankers.

Azerbaijan's oil and condensate production edged up 0.9 percent in 2010 to 50.83 million tonnes from 50.38 million in 2009. The oil-rich country plans to produce 51.5 million tonnes of oil in 2011.

Source: Reuters

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