Azerbaijan to supply oil to Belarus for Venezuela

BAKU, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan has agreed to supply crude oil to Belarus on behalf of Venezuela and, in return, the Latin American country will provide oil to meet Azerbaijan’s export commitments to the United States, state energy company SOCAR said.

“We signed swap deals between Azerbaijan, Belarus and Venezuela on oil supplies in the amount of 5.0 million tonnes of oil per year from 2011,” the head of SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev, told journalists on Monday.

He said that Azerbaijan would supply Belarus and get oil from Venezuela, delivering it to the United States on tankers.

The oil destined for Belarus would be sent through Ukraine via the pipeline from Odessa on the Black Sea to Brody, he said.

During a visit to Minsk in October, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez agreed to supply the former Soviet republic with 30 million tonnes of oil over three years from 2011 in a deal worth as much as $19.4 billion.

Venezuela’s oil minister, Rafael Ramirez, said later that his country would boost crude oil exports to Belarus by 150 percent next year to 200,000 barrels per day

Although Belarus reached a deal on oil export duties with Moscow this month, potentially removing one area of tension over energy supplies, Minsk has been keen to diversify some of its sources of oil away from Russia.

SOCAR’s Abdullayev said another deal, to deliver Azeri Light crude oil, was reached with China and Taiwan during a visit he made to the region earlier this month.

“It will also help to diversify our oil deliveries,” he said.

Azerbaijan’s oil production rose 13.5 percent in 2009 to 50.376 million tonnes, breaching the figure of 1 million barrels per day for the first time. The country plans to produce 52.0 million tonnes of oil in 2010.

Ex-Soviet Azerbaijan ships its oil via five main routes - Russia’s largest Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, neighbouring Georgia’s Supsa, Batumi and Kulevi ports, and Turkey’s Ceyhan. (Reporting by Afet Mehtiyeva; Writing by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Editing by Anthony Barker)