Two-hour power blackout halts Azeri capital

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 28, 2012 3:31 AM
Two-hour power blackout halts Azeri capital

BAKU (Reuters) - Lightning caused a fire at a power station in Azerbaijan on Friday, blacking out the capital Baku and other parts of the ex-Soviet republic and halting oil refineries, officials said.

Outages left Baku without power for two hours and delayed the opening of the Caspian Sea coast city's subway system, prompting commuters to pack buses in a chaotic rush hour.

Production at offshore oil wells was not affected because they have their own power sources but refineries stopped operations for two hours, a spokesman for state oil company SOCAR said.

Azerbaijan is host to oil companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil and BP, which leads a consortium operating offshore oil and gas fields.

The Emergencies Ministry said the fire broke out shortly before 7 a.m. (10 p.m. EDT on Thursday) at the Mingechevir station, which supplies power to about a third of the country of 9.5 million in the South Caucasus.

A reserve line was switched on, restoring power to Baku and Mingechevir in western Azerbaijan, where the power station is located.

(Reporting by Lada Evgrashina; Writing by Steve Gutterman, editing by William Hardy)