Russia sceptical on lower Azeri oil export fee

MOSCOW, March 1 (Reuters) – Russia’s oil pipeline
monopoly Transneft on Thursday downplayed prospects
for a lower tariff on Azeri oil shipments via the
Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline, a factor that could have encouraged
more Urals crude exports from the Black Sea outlet.

Earlier this week, Azerbaijan’s industry and energy minister
said that Azeri state energy company SOCAR and Transneft have
agreed on a new, more flexible transit policy for Azerbaijan’s
oil exports via Russia, which envisages lower tariffs on
shipments of big volumes of oil.

But Transneft said tariff cuts were not in prospect.

“We have (only) agreed that they would pump oil of third
parties (via the pipeline). But we don’t see grounds for
existing tariffs cuts,” Transneft’s spokesman Igor Dyomin said.

Azerbaijan has used the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline for its
oil exports since 1997 along with four other ports: Supsa,
Batumi and Kulevi in Georgia and Ceyhan in Turkey.

At Novorossiisk, Azeri oil is sold as Urals blend. One
possible third party supplier is Turkmenistan.

Azerbaijan’s industry and energy minister Natik Aliyev said
a more flexible policy had been agreed.

“We agreed with Transneft to apply a more flexible tariff
policy, which envisages lower tariffs on shipments of big
volumes of oil, instead of a single tariff of $15.67 per tonne,”
Aliyev told reporters on Wednesday.

SOCAR and the Azeri ministry declined immediate comments.

Azerbaijan’s oil exports via Russia fell to 1.99 million
tonnes in 2011, down from 2.24 million tonnes in 2010.

The decline was mainly caused by an increase in oil supplies
to Azeri refineries due to rising domestic consumption of oil
products and repair works at one of the sections of the
Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline.

SOCAR said in October last year crude shipments via Russia,
which make up a relatively small part of total Azeri exports,
would fall to 1.7 million tonnes in 2012.

An industry source told Reuters that Azerbaijan had planned
to ship oil from neighbouring Turkmenistan via the pipeline.
Dyomin said that Transneft has not heard of such plans yet.

(Reporting by Olesya Astakhova in Moscow; additional reporting
by Lada Yevgrashina in Baku; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin;
editing by Keiron Henderson)

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