BP to expand exploration in Azerbaijani part of Caspian in 2019

BP to expand exploration in Azerbaijani part of Caspian in 2019

BP expects to launch a number of exploration projects in the Caspian Sea to boost its presence in the region, with new drilling in the Shallow Waters Absheron Peninsula project expected in early 2019, company vice president, Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli.

S&P Global Platts reports in its article BP to expand exploration in Azerbaijani part of Caspian in 2019 that the oil major plans to finalize the interpretation of seismic studies at the Shallow Waters Absheron Peninsula oil project "soon and launch the operational stage of the project this year.' "But the drilling will be most likely started early next year," he said. But Aslanbayli declined to give any concrete details in respect of production figures estimates or timeframes of the following stages at the project.

BP signed a production sharing agreement with SOCAR to jointly explore and develop prospects of the shallow waters around the Absheron Peninsula in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea in December 2014. Under the Production Sharing Agreement, BP operates 50% of the project, with SOCAR holding the other half.

The PSA contract area stretches along the margins of the Caspian basin to the south of the Absheron peninsula. The acreage features water depths of up to 40 meters with potential reservoir depths of 3,000-5,000 meters, according to BP's website.

BP is also exploring the Shafag-Asiman structure in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, which is estimated to hold mainly gas. The block is some 125 kilometers (78 miles) Southeast of Baku. It covers an area of some 1,100 square km and has never been explored before, the company's website says. It is in a deepwater section with reservoir depth of about 7,000 meters.

BP and SOCAR are also discussing the D230 block in the northern Absheron area of the Caspian Sea. Signing of the deal was expected last year.

EXISTING PROJECTS

BP is the operator of Azerbaijan's two major projects, Azeri-Chirag-Gyuneshli, which allows for some 75% of the country's crude output, and Shah Deniz gas project, which is about to launch gas exports to Turkey and later on to Europe from its second stage. BP aims to keep ACG's output stable in the coming years thanks to advanced technologies, even though a certain decline is unavoidable, Aslanbayli said. The fields, discovered in 1970, are facing natural decline. But given that the contract was extended through the end of 2049, new investment will help to maintain the project, he added.

In 2018, BP hopes production at ACG will remain "around the last-year levels," he added. ACG production averaged at 588,000 b/d in 2017, down 6.7% on the year. The output includes, production from the Chirag (51,000 b/d), Central Azeri (137,000 b/d), West Azeri (124,000 b/d), East Azeri (82,000 b/d), Deepwater Gunashli (117,000 b/d) and West Chirag (77,000 b/d) platforms, according to BP.

On the other major project, Shah Deniz 2, Aslanbayli confirmed the work is in line with the schedule. "The pipeline is already filled with gas and testing of the system is being carried out," he said. Supplies of commercial gas to Turkey are to start in the middle of the year -- July, he said.

The Shah Deniz 2 project envisages production of 16 Bcm/year of gas, of which 6 Bcm/year will be delivered to Turkey. Supplies to Europe are expected after 2020.

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