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Azeri oil output falls in Jan-Sept, gas increases

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BAKU, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan's oil and condensateoutput fell in the nine months to end-September, extending a2011 drop, state energy company SOCAR said, after the governmentdecided to slow output to prolong the life of reserves.

Maintenance at some main fields contributed to the fall inoil output, while gas production rose from plentiful reserves.

Oil and condensate production fell 7.8 percent to 32.8million tonnes from 35.5 million in the same period of lastyear. Natural gas output rose 1.6 percent to 19.7 billion cubicmetres (bcm) from 19.4 bcm.

Azerbaijan is reducing extraction rates of its oil reservesto extend the duration of production, the State StatisticsCommittee head said in April, a move that could lead tolower-than-expected economic growth in 2012.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.5 percentin the first half of 2012 against a 0.9 percent rise in thefirst half of 2011.

Officials at BP and SOCAR also say the geology of thecountry's main oilfields Azeri-Chirag Guneshli has fallen shortof original expectations, but have cited maintenance whenexplaining the falls of the past 18 months.

The country expects to produce 44-45 million tonnes of oiland 27-28 bcm of gas in 2012.

Last year, its oil and condensate production fell 10.7percent to 45.4 million tonnes from 50.8 million in 2010, partlydue to maintenance at some platforms and refineries. Natural gasoutput fell 2.3 percent to 25.7 bcm from 26.2 bcm in 2010.

The former Soviet republic ships its oil via five mainroutes: Russia's largest Black Sea port of Novorossiisk,neighbouring Georgia's Supsa, Batumi and Kulevi ports, andTurkey's Ceyhan.

Azerbaijan sells gas to the domestic market and to Georgiaand Turkey via the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline as well as toRussia.

(Reporting by Lada Evgrashina; writing by Margarita Antidze inTbilisi; editing by James Jukwey)

((margarita.antidze@thomsonreuters.com)(+995322999370)(Reuters

Messaging: margarita.antidze.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: AZERBAIJAN ENERGY/OUTPUT