ECONOMY

Exxon’s boost to Georgia’s oil terminal

TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi boosted oil and refined product shipments last month due to new volumes of Azeri crude, including deliveries by ExxonMobil, a source at the terminal said yesterday. The source said volumes had risen to 1.403 million tons in May this year from 1 million tons in May 2005. In April this year, oil and refined product shipments stood at 1.059 million tons, up from 648,000 tons in April 2005. Batumi gets most of its volumes from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Volumes are shipped across the Caspian Sea in small tankers, unloaded at the Azeri port of Baku and then sent by rail to Batumi for re-export to the Mediterranean. Exxon gave the terminal an unexpected boost last summer when it decided to ship its share of crude from the BP-led Azeri offshore group to Batumi by rail instead of using the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean. The US energy major launched shipments last June and has since committed itself to supplying up to 10 million tons of oil over five years via Batumi. Exxon’s increase helped shipments hit 9.699 million tons last year, a leap of over 40 percent from the 6.732 million tons received in 2004.