Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR is holding talks with Russian oil pipeline operator Transneft on resuming oil shipments via Russia in 2016 after exports were halted for technical reasons, a SOCAR official told Reuters.

Azerbaijan exports its oil through the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline via Russia, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline via Georgia and Turkey, and the Baku-Supsa pipeline via Georgia and by rail via Georgia.

But the official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters that SOCAR had not shipped its oil via Russia in December due to "technical limitations" at the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline.

"We've asked to temporarily use another route - to Makhachkala, an option envisaged by our contract, but Transneft refused, citing technical limitations," he said.

Oil exports via Russia for the whole of 2015 totalled 1.27 million tonnes, up from 1.02 million in 2014.

The official said SOCAR had so far not exported its oil via Russia this year either but had held negotiations with Transneft on resuming shipments, suggesting the Makhachkala route be activated as per the contract.

"We are still in talks with the Russians, they should be more flexible," he said, adding that SOCAR was ready to export about 1.4 million tonnes of crude via Russia this year.

He said that volumes which were meant to be shipped via Russia had been re-routed to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

After the lifting of international sanctions on Iran, he said SOCAR was also considering exporting refined oil products to Tehran as well as swap operations.

"Our delegation was in Iran recently and discussed the possibility of reviving our cooperation," he said.

He said that SOCAR planned to trade around 22 million tonnes of its own oil this year and about 11 million tonnes of non-Azeri oil worldwide, the same levels as in 2015.

Source: Reuters (Additional reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Adrian Croft)

Source: Helling Shipping News