Georgia product imports up
Products supplies to Georgia increased by 5.7pc to 1.41mnt last year and demand should be steady in 2020, market participants say.
Bitumen and A-95 gasoline underpinned rising imports in 2019. Construction works and road maintenance boosted domestic bitumen demand last year, traders say — the product is delivered mainly by truck from Iran, across Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Georgian companies reduced A-92 gasoline imports by 6.3pc to 355,600t last year, but upped buying of A-95 by 15.5pc to 177,000t. Consumption of high-octane gasoline is growing because of the country’s expanding fleet of hybrid vehicles and tighter government control over vehicle conditions, traders say.
Imported gasoline came mainly by rail from Russia last year, accounting for 42.5pc of the total. Russian gasoline imports increased by 9pc to 231,200t.
Georgia imported seaborne gasoline from Romania and Bulgaria, and in September importers started buying Kazakh A-92 — taking 4,500t by rail last year.
Euro 4 diesel buying continues
Georgian importers will continue buying relatively cheap 50ppm Sulphur diesel from Azerbaijan’s Baku refinery this year to prevent a sharp domestic price rise.
In November, the government deferred restrictions on imports of diesel below Euro 5 specifications by 12 months until 1 January 2021, market participants say. Imports of Euro 5 diesel jumped by 40pc on the quarter to 58,600 t/month in fourth-quarter 2019 ahead of the expected introduction of the new restrictions from 1 January 2020.
Total Georgian diesel imports dipped by 1pc to 551,700t last year. Azerbaijan accounted for 31pc of the total, but supply of Azeri Euro 4 standard product was down by 2.5pc to 170,200t. Georgia also imported diesel from Turkmenistan, Bulgaria and Romania.
Georgia has no large refineries and is dependent on products imports from the Black Sea and the Caspian regions. The country’s two small mini-refineries produce limited amounts of products, traders say.
The country has about 1,150 retail filling stations, according to market participants. The largest suppliers of products to the Georgian market are trading companies Wissol and Petrocas Energy, Azeri state-owned Socar, Russia’s Lukoil and state-owned Kazmunaigaz-controlled downstream firm Rompetrol. These companies operate more than 600 retail outlets in Georgia, while about 100 private-sector companies, including Senta and Frego, control about a third of the retail market — each owning 5-30 filling stations.