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Azerbaijan halts oil exports via Georgia

BAKU, August 10 – Azerbaijan has halted oil exports via the Georgian ports of Batumi and Kulevi due to clashes between Russia and Georgia, the head of the state oil company said Saturday.

"Since last night the import and export of oil through the Georgian ports of Kulevi and Batumi have been halted," said Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of the Azeri state oil company SOCAR, in televised comments.

"This is due to armed actions in the area of the Georgia-Ossetia conflict."

He added that SOCAR was "looking into the possibility of exporting oil through the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline, but the capacity of this pipeline is quite low," in a reference to a route that links the Azerbaijani capital to the Russian Black Sea Coast.

Earlier Saturday Russian planes staged a raid near the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a major international oil route that runs through Georgia, but did not damage it, Georgia\’s prime minister said.

In recent years Georgia has become an important transport route for oil from Azerbaijan and other Caspian Sea oil producers, allowing Western oil firms to bypass Russia\’s oil pipelines.

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