On Jan. 25 Iran's leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei met Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Teheran. During the meeting, which was also attended by President Mohammad Khatami, Khamenei praised the expansion of ties between Iran and Azerbaijan, referred to the ethnic ties between the Iranian and Azeri people. Khamenei called for the expansion of Tehran-Baku ties in the political, security, economic, commercial, and cultural spheres, adding that the United States cannot be trusted and that that Iran and Azerbaijan should never allow their warm ties to be influenced by the policies of foreigners. Khamenei noted that Iran believes all issues, including the issue of delineating the Caspian's offshore waters, can be amiably resolved. Aliyev called Iran-Azerbaijan ties promising and said nothing could harm their expanding relations. Aliyev noted that that the agreements that the two sides are to sign in Tehran on Jan. 26 will further strengthen Tehran-Baku ties, commenting that boosting relations with Iran in all fields is one of Azerbaijan's main national policies.
Russia's Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov has made a working visit to Belgrade to discuss Lukoil's operations in Serbia with the country's officials. Alekperov met with President of Serbia Boris Tadich, Prime Minister Voyislav Koshtunitsa, Minister of Energy and Mining Radomir Naumov, Minister of the Economy Predrag Bubalo and the Director of Serbian Privatization Agency Miodrag Djordjevitch. Alekperov confirmed that Lukoil is interested in expanding its retail operations in Serbia and would welcome even closer cooperation with Serbia's oil company Naftne Industrije Srbije (NIS). Delegation member Dmitry Tarasov, First Vice-President of Lukoil participated in the Lukoil-Beopetrol shareholders meeting, where a report on Fulfillment of Investment and Social Obligations was approved. In Sept. 2003, Lukoil UKOIL paid $ 152.8 million for a 79.5 percent stake of Serbian Beopetrol, which operates nearly 200 filling stations and controls approximately 20 percent of Serbian retail market.
On Jan. 22 the Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) Bavi at Vietnam's offshore Bachho oilfield ceased cargo operations because of technical problems with its hull. The FSO is used as a floating production and storage unit for oil, which is stored in tanks in the hull of the platform and subsequently transported by shuttle tankers or pipelines to onshore refineries. A full inspection of the FSO will be carried out shortly, which is expected to last up to 2-3 months. During the inspection period, the Bachho field will have only 2 FSOs in operation, which will lead to a significant decrease in the field's daily production.
On Jan. the keel of the 608 tanker project was laid down at Russia's Volgograd Shipyard. The tanker is being built for Norway's Kokoda Product Carriers (Brewing Group), Norway. Three 6,500-ton tankers will be built under the contract. The tanker is 376 feet long and will have a cruising speed of 15 knots. Moscow Narodny Bank (MNB, London) gave a $24.8 million credit for the construction of the tanker.
Kiev's Oil Transport Institute has started the construction of an oil-handling complex near the Yuzhny port in the Odessa port region for a private Ukrainian company. The Institute will construct a reversible oil terminal with an annual capacity of 1.5 million tons of oil A berth to handle tankers of up to 100,000 tons will also be constructed.
Closing oil prices, Jan. 26, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $46.47
West Texas intermediate crude oil: $49.28