Azeri Oil Production Down

BAKU (RFE/RL)–Azerbaijan in 1997 met its oil production target of 9.02 million metric tons–down 0.9 percent on 1996 levels–Interfax reported Monday.

In an interview with "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" two days later–Natik Aliyev–the president of the state oil company SOCAR–admitted that the target for extraction of natural gas was not met.

Aliyev disclosed that in 1997 Azerbaijan exported a record quantity of oil–the lion’s share of which went to Iran–Georgia–and Dagestan.

(That oil was extracted by SOCAR–not by any of the international consortia of which SOCAR is a member.)

Aliyev said that domestic consumption of oil has fallen since SOCAR began demanding pre-payment for deliveries to all domestic customers–except the Ministries of Defense and Agriculture.

"Nezavisimaya Gazeta" recently reported that initial excavation of the Karabakh III oil field yielded no oil.


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