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Feeling Low On Vitality

The attendant beckons. Mr Shabunin strips and enters a ceramic-tiled room. He
grabs hold of the ornate bath handle and lowers his body into georgia natural gas bill pay online 35 gallons of
black gold as a lot as a barrel. Orangey filaments swirl about on the
floor, sticking to the enamel and to the hair on his pores and skin. The odor from
the 40°C bath makes our heads spin.

If you strain your eyes, you possibly can nearly make out the tankers plying the
Caspian Sea, transporting the sunshine crude that Azerbaijan exports to the
world. But the oil used right here gushes out of the Earth at Naftalan, a small
city 160 miles north-west of the capital.

“Naftalan is too heavy for the industry,” Dr Alif Zulfugar, the
supervisor of this unlikely spa, explains. “It is used just for healing
functions. It doesn’t get treated in any method. It passes directly from the
source to our tankers after which into our basins.” Shoppers flock to the
clinic from all over the former Soviet states, and increasingly from the
Emirates and even Europe.

Marco Polo talked about the virtues of Azeri oil within the 13th century. In the
Travels, he wrote of a “fountain from which oil springs in nice
abundance … not edible however good for burning and to treat males and animals
with mange, and camels with hives and ulcers”.

In the pale blue corridors of the clinic, the yellow pores and skin and slow gait of a
lady indicate that she has just emerged from a bath. Tatiana Shabunin is a
dermatologist and she is keeping her husband firm during his therapy.

She discovered Naftalan oil in her textbooks whereas at medical faculty in Moscow
and has come out of professional curiosity and “for sheer pleasure”.

Others come for medicinal causes. The crude is alleged to heal the pores and skin,
treating conditions like eczema and psoriasis; the joints, easing rheumatism
and arthritis; and the nerves. “Over a hundred issues in all,” Dr
Zulfugar says.

Nonetheless, the oil is nearly 50 per cent naphthalene, a hydrocarbon commonly
used as a moth repellent. This poses a problem as a result of EU laws deem
it a doubtlessly carcinogenic substance.

The physician shrugs off these issues, saying the restricted exposure of eight to
12 minutes in the bath, and never more than one bath a day throughout a 10-day
remedy, means his patients usually are not at risk. Tens of millions of patients have
used the Naftalan baths, he says.

Of their 1980s heyday, 75,000 people visited the crude spas each year. That
torrent became a trickle in 1988 when war broke out between Azerbaijan and
ethnic Armenians in nearby Nagorno-Karabakh. Five of the six Soviet-period
resorts became refugee shelters.

Azerbaijan has since skilled a new petroleum increase, emerging as a key
transit route for oil from Central Asia to Europe. Gross domestic product
grew more than 20 per cent a yr on common between 2003 and 2007, making
the economy one of the world’s quickest growing. The nation is so awash in
oil that georgia natural gas bill pay online folks are literally swimming in it and Baku is cashing in.

“Look at this hill,” says Hikmat Ibrahimov, the founder of the
clinic. “When we started, there was nothing here.” Immediately it boasts
a power station, eating places and cranes, many cranes.

In 2002, Mr Ibrahimov pulled off a coup by acquiring the correct to transport
the crude from the remote plains of the hinterlands to the very wealthy Azeri
capital. “With President Aliev’s assist,” he dutifully provides.
Construction started on a second clinic this winter.

In the VIP bathroom, the 18-year-outdated bathboy, Ismael, helps the Russian rafter
to the shower for his 30-minute scrubdown. It will take Ismael three months
to earn the £300 pounds it prices for a 10-day therapy. He jokes that his
shopper will probably be taking a couple of drops of black gold again to Siberia as a
souvenir: Mr Shabunin’s saturated skin will ooze crude oil for two or three
days to return.

Azerbaijan: Land of black gold
*A former Soviet Republic, Azerbaijan lies at a strategic crossroads
between the East and the West, sandwiched between Iran and Russia and
straddling a area emerging as a key transit route for oil and gas from
Central Asia to Europe.

*Its eight.7 million persons are principally Shia Muslims. They converse Azeri, which is
intently associated to Turkish, although Russian dominates the capital, Baku.

*Gross home product grew georgia natural gas bill pay online by greater than 20 per cent a 12 months on common
between 2003 and 2007, making the economic system one of many world’s fastest rising.

*Ethnic Armenian separatists, backed by Armenia, fought a conflict in the nineties
to throw off Azerbaijan’s control over the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh
area. An estimated 30,000 folks have been killed. The presidents of Armenia
and Azerbaijan are expected to satisfy in Russia subsequent week for talks to finish the

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