Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Possible Reopening of the Baku-Novorosiysk Pipeline

Following a visit by Vladimir Putin to Baku and the signing of an energy cooperation agreement between Rosneft and SOCAR (State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic),  the two oil companies have begun discussions on possible joint projects.

Rovnag Abdullayev, head of SOCAR, told reporters that he is in discussion with Rosneft to reverse the flow of the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline.  This pipeline was recently closed when Russia refused to keep it running below capacity, and Azerbaijan refused to increase the flow because SOCAR lost money on the product.  (Russia mixed Azeri light with Urals crude, decreasing the value of the Azeri light).

Abdullayev said the two sides would hold talks through the remainder of 2013, and it was possible that Urals crude could begin traveling south in 2014.  Once the oil reaches Baku, it could either be put into the underutilized Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline for onward shipment to Europe; or, it could be used as feedstock for new Azerbaijani refineries scheduled to be completed by 2018.  Abdullayev said that the use of the pipeline would be negotiated directly by Rosneft with the Russian pipeline company, Transneft.

The two sides are discussing shipping 5 million tons annually (100,000 barrels per day) through the pipeline.  If the entire amount were shipped onward to Europe, the BTC would still have capacity.  Originally built to carry 1.2 million barrels per day, it is currently shipping approximately 750,000 barrels per day as Azerbaijani oil production begins to dwindle.