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Azerbaijan Halts Oil Exports from 2 Georgian Ports

Shipments of oil and oil products from two of Georgia's ports have been suspended because of fighting in the ex-Soviet state's breakaway South Ossetia region, Azeri state energy firm SOCAR said on Saturday.

Oil Pipeline
Oil Pipeline

"There have been no shipments coming to or from the Batumi and Kulevi ports since last night," SOCAR head Rovnag Abdullayev said on Azeri television.

SOCAR uses the ports to export crude and refined products.

Georgian forces entered South Ossetia on Thursday to try to restore central government control over the region, an operation that prompted a military response from Russia.

Reports of casualties put the combined number of dead at more than 2,000.

"These circumstances amount to force majeure and tomorrow, together with BP, we will examine the situation," Abdullayev said.

British oil company BP and SOCAR have a production-sharing deal in the Caspian Sea.

SOCAR would consider using the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline which exports oil via Russia to Europe, he said, although its relatively small capacity of between 10,000 and 12,000 tonnes per day could pose a problem.

"All 47 people we have working in Kulevi left the area today due to the problem," Abdullayev added.

All Azerbaijan's ports are on the landlocked Caspian Sea, which means it has to use Georgian or Russian ports on the Black Sea or Turkey's Mediterranean outlet at Ceyhan.

SOCAR opened the Kulevi oil terminal in May after buying it two years ago. It planned to ship 5 million tonnes of oil and oil products annually through the facility.