LONDON Nov 30 Azeri state oil company Socar's
trading division has hired three new crude traders who will be
based in London with a view to targeting the Chinese market, its
chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday.
Wang Zheng, the former head of crude at Unipec in London,
and Xun Dong, a former crude trader at Shell, joined
Socar this month and a third trader is due to join in the new
"Of course we will exercise their (traders') network in
China and access to refineries in China," Socar Trading CEO Arzu
"Our strategy is global crude trading and the missing point
so far was coverage of Asia because Asia was mostly concentrated
around marketing/supply with national oil companies and
Socar Trading plans to sell directly to Chinese refiners,
the so-called "teapots", which were given import licenses in
2015. Asian refiners prefer heavier crude, he said.
In Asia, Azeri Light goes to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam
and sometimes Taiwan.
As part of its international push, Socar Trading opened
trading operations in Calgary and Houston this year adding to
its presence in Geneva, Dubai, Singapore and London.
Separately, prior to U.S. sanctions, Socar was engaged in
crude oil swaps with Iran, in which Caspian Sea oil deliveries
were exchanged for Iranian crude in the Mid-East Gulf. Socar was
initially keen to re-establish them after sanctions were lifted
this year but there is no longer any upside, Azimov said.
Azimov said Iran was now able to supply its northern
refiners with oil from the south, so the price of Caspian oil
would have to be competitive and in turn, it has become more
difficult for Socar to market the Iranian crude because of
destination, currency and price constraints.
(Reporting By Julia Payne. Editing by Jane Merriman)