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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri Oil Route Undecided

The Azerbaijan International Operating Company, an $8 billion oil consortium, said Friday a final decision on the route of the main pipeline carrying its crude to markets was not likely before October.

A working group has been formed that includes shareholders in the consortium and Azeri government officials. Formal negotiations, on which of three main options will eventually be chosen, are due to start shortly, an AIOC official said.

"We are currently working on starting up negotiations with the host government, which are needed in order to complete an agreement with them," said AIOC spokeswoman Tamam Bayatly by telephone from the Azeri capital of Baku.

"We expect to come up with recommendations on the options in October 1998." AIOC is led by an alliance of British Petroleum and Norway's Statoil.

Azeri President Heidar Aliyev, on a visit to Japan, said earlier Friday that the new pipeline would run from Baku to Turkey's Mediterranean oil export outlet of Ceyhan, and that the AIOC had agreed "in general" to the route.

Bayatly said that the Baku-Ceyhan option was one of three being considered by the consortium.

Aliyev has long been a supporter of the Baku-Ceyhan route.

The two other alternatives are Baku-Novorossiisk and Baku-Supsa. Novorossiisk is Russia's main oil export terminal in the Black Sea, and Supsa is Georgia's Black Sea oil outlet.