Moscow - A clash between trading house Vitol and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR over Caspian Sea oil shipments is forcing Turkmenistan to slash exports of crude due to a lack of tankers.
Turkmenistan typically exports about 200,000 tonnes of oil per month via the Caspian to world markets, mainly from fields operated by the UAE’s ENOC and Italy’s Eni, but flows have halved in recent weeks, six traders involved in operations said.
That happened after Turkmen producers decided to export oil via Russia with the help of Swiss trader Vitol and ditch the previous Azeri route, operated by state-owned SOCAR. The reasons behind the change are not fully clear but trading sources attributed it to pricing disagreements. Three trading sources said SOCAR had raised tariffs, while one source said Vitol had offered lower tariffs.
“The only problem was that Vitol was lacking tankers,” one of the sources involved in operations said. Vitol said it would not comment on commercial activity or trading. SOCAR, ENOC and the Turkmen Energy Ministry declined to comment.
Russian pipeline monopoly Transneft did not respond to a request for comment. Eni said it had not been forced to reduce exports or production and that “the situation was stable”.