Status of offshore oil, gas contracts in Azerbaijan as of Dec. 2018

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 8

By Sara Israfilbayova – Trend:


The production sharing agreement (PSA) for developing the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) block of oil and gas fields was signed in September 1994, for a period of 30 years.

The Azerbaijani government and the country’s state oil company SOCAR, together with BP, Chevron, INPEX, Statoil, ExxonMobil, TP, ITOCHU and ONGC Videsh signed the amended and restated agreement on the joint development and production sharing for the Azeri, Chirag fields and the Deep Water Portion of the Gunashli Field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea until 2050.

The oil reserves on the block account for more than one billion tons. The recoverable reserves amount to more than 500 million tons of oil. More than 3.3 billion barrels of oil have been produced from the ACG, and the total costs for the project amounted to about $44.69 billion.

The production at Chirag field started in 1997, Central Azeri - early 2005, West Azeri - early 2006 and East Azeri - late 2006. Production on the deepwater part of Guneshli field began in spring of 2008, West Chirag - January of 2014.

Under the new agreement, construction of new Central-Eastern Azeri platform is planned. The investment decision on the new platform is planned to be made within the new ACG agreement in mid-2019.

The new ACG participating interests are as follows: BP - 30.37 percent; AzACG (SOCAR) - 25 percent; Chevron - 9.57 percent; INPEX - 9.31 percent; Statoil - 7.27 percent; ExxonMobil - 6.79 percent; TP - 5.73 percent; ITOCHU - 3.65 percent; ONGC Videsh Limited (OVL) - 2.31 percent.

Project status

BP is the operator of the ACG development project.

As much as 474 million tons of oil and 153 billion cubic meters of gas were produced at the block as of Nov.1, 2018.

The volume of oil production at ACG block totaled 22 million tons (around 161 million barrels) in January-September 2018. The production was carried out at 112 wells at the block during the reporting period.

BP transferred 21.8 billion cubic meters of associated gas to Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR in nine months of 2018. The associated gas is transferred to SOCAR as part of development of ACG free of charge.

This is while 29 million tons of oil was produced at ACG in 2017, compared to 31.1 million tons in 2016. Presently, daily oil production at the ACG is about 588,000 barrels.

Shah Deniz

The contract for the developing the Shah Deniz field was signed on June 4, 1996.

The contract was extended from 2036 to 2048 and the shares of SOCAR and BP (project operator) in the project were increased to 16.7 percent and 28.8 percent respectively, in accordance with the documents signed in Baku on Dec.17, 2013.

The shareholders in the contract are: BP, operator (28.8 percent), AzSD (10 percent), SGC Upstream (6.7 percent), Petronas (15.5 percent), Lukoil (10 percent), NIOC (10 percent) and TPAO (19 percent).

The proven reserves of Shah Deniz are estimated at 1.2 trillion cubic meters of gas and 240 million tons of condensate.

Project status

The volume of production at Shah Deniz field stood at 99.7 billion cubic meters of gas and over 28 million tons of condensate. The major part of the gas produced at the field was exported.

During the reporting period, 52.2 billion cubic meters of gas was supplied to Turkey, while 8.1 billion cubic meters was delivered to Georgia. Gas is also delivered to the pumping stations of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.

This is while about 8 billion cubic meters of gas and 1.8 million tons of condensate (around 14 million barrels) were produced at Shah Deniz in three quarters of 2018.

As much as 10.2 billion cubic meters of gas and 2.4 million tons of condensate were produced at the field in 2017.

On June 30, 2018, the gas from the Azerbaijani Shah Deniz field went to Turkey through the first segment of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC) - from the Sangachal terminal to the expanded South Caucasus Pipeline.

Additional 16 billion cubic meters of gas per year will be extracted within the second stage of the field's development. Around six billion of the mentioned amount will be delivered to Turkey and 10 billion to Europe. It is predicted that gas production will exceed 25 billion cubic meters per year within the second stage of the field's development.

SGC is currently a functional project. The South Caucasus gas pipeline and the TANAP gas pipeline, which is a part of SGC, already supply gas through the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

This year Azerbaijan exported gas produced as part of both stages of the Shah Deniz field development.

In total, about 900 million cubic meters of gas have been exported through TANAP so far.


Absheron project participants include SOCAR - 50 percent and France’s Total - 50 percent.

A contract on the Absheron field was signed Feb. 27, 2009 between SOCAR and Total.

Project status

The discovery of the field was announced in September 2011. A decision was made to drill an offshoot of the first exploration well to specify the data. The work was completed in 2012.

The results of the first exploration well indicate the existence of commercially attractive gas and condensate reserves. According to geologists of Total, the reserves of Absheron amount to 326 billion cubic meters of gas and 108 million tons of condensate.

Total said that the first gas production from the Absheron field is scheduled for the third quarter of 2020.

The work as part of the first phase of the Absheron field development continues. The drilling of the first appraisal well began in February 2018 and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2019. The detailed engineering began in August.

In general, the first phase is based on the so-called early production scheme. In November 2016, SOCAR and Total signed a framework agreement on the basic contractual and commercial principles governing the program for the first phase of the Absheron field development.

At the first stage, field development involves drilling one well at a depth of 450 meters. As part of the first stage of the Absheron field development, there are plans to produce about 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas and 700,000 tons of condensate.

At the second stage, there are plans to produce up to 4 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

JOCAP, with 50 percent share held by SOCAR and TOTAL each, is the operator of the Absheron project.

Bahar and Gum Deniz

On Dec. 22, 2009, SOCAR signed a PSA contract with Bahar Energy Limited for the exploration, rehabilitation and development of the Bahar and Gum Deniz offshore fields in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

The shares of the operating company Bahar Energy Limited fully belong to the US company Greenfields Petroleum.

A 25-year contract has been concluded with the possibility of extension for another five years. Initially, SOCAR's share of profitable hydrocarbons will amount to 40 percent. In the future the share will increase to 90 percent. The investment in this project will hit $1 billion, according to preliminary estimates.

Bahar Energy Limited was registered in the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in the UAE. SOCAR signed a memorandum of understanding with the company on April 16, 2009.

Project status

The contract consists of two parts. The first one envisages the rehabilitation and stabilization of production at the block of fields and the second – the exploration of the Bahar-2 prospective structure.

The average daily oil production in the Azerbaijani block of oil and gas fields, Bahar-Gum Deniz, in the Caspian Sea stood at 636 barrels, gas output totaled about 480,400 cubic meters in January-September 2018.

Bahar Energy plans to initiate a waterflood of the Fasila reservoir in Bahar (the “Fasila Reservoir”) in 2020 starting with the implementation of five waterflood pilots.

Crude oil production at Azerbaijan’s Gum Deniz field in the third quarter 2018 continued to be affected by a delay in carrying out workovers to reactivate wells from refurbished platforms 409 and 412 in the south Gum Deniz due to the late delivery of heavier rigs ordered in 2017.

Reportedly, Bahar Energy Operating Company (“BEOC”) mobilized these rigs to the offshore in early August 2018 and is currently rigging up another newly arrived A80 rig on the onshore GD-601 well to confirm its capabilities before relocating it to offshore platforms.

Gum Deniz field has been operated since 1955 and is located 21 kilometers southeast of Baku. Bahar field has been operated since 1969 and is located 40 kilometers southeast of Baku.


In 2008, SOCAR and Nobel Oil Exploration & Production Ltd created SOCAR-Umid LLC, to carry out drilling on the prospective structure "Umid" in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. SOCAR owns an 80-percent share and the Nobel Oil company has 20-percent share in the joint venture. In early 2017, a risk service contract was signed regarding exploration and development of the Umid-Babak block.

SOCAR announced the discovery of the Umid field in 2010. The volume of the field's reserve exceeds 200 billion cubic meters of gas and 40 million tons of condensate, according to the results of drilling the first exploration well and the estimations of SOCAR specialists.

The Umid field is located 75 kilometers from Baku, 40 kilometers away from the coast. The first geophysical work was carried out there in 1953, the second, improved one in 1972. Nine wells were drilled there from 1977 to 1992. However, none of them produced any results.

The reserves of Babak perspective structure may amount to 400 billion cubic meters of gas and 80 million tons of condensate, according to preliminary data.

Project status

The risk service contract (a contract with a minimum guarantee of compensation) for exploration and development of an offshore block including the Umid gas field and the promising Babak structure in the Caspian Sea was signed between SOCAR and SOCAR Umid Oil and Gas Ltd on January 12, 2017.

SOCAR-Umid LLC, which was engaged in the development of the Umid gas field, was affiliated to the SOCAR’s Azneft Production Union.

The drilling and gas extraction from the Umid field continues. In 2020, drilling of a new well will begin from the second platform of the Umid gas field. The well will be commissioned in 2021.

The fourth well is being drilled. Production from three wells (#10, #14 and #16) is underway at the field. More than 1.25 million cubic meters of gas and 200 tons of condensate are daily produced at the field. In total, SOCAR has produced almost 2 billion cubic meters of gas since the beginning of the development of the Umid field in 2011.

SOCAR has a long-term program on the development of the Umid-Babak block, thanks to which the company will be able to receive up to five billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Umid field alone.

In May, Financial Director of Nobel Upstream Huseyn Gasimov said that the annual gas production at the Umid-Babak block at the first stage of its full-scale development may reach 3-4 billion cubic meters of gas per year. These volumes are planned to be supplied to a growing domestic market. At the next stage, another 3-4 billion cubic meters of additional gas will be added to the production, which are planned to be sold in the regional market, and at subsequent stages in the European market through the Southern Gas Corridor.

In 2018, SOCAR received 663 million manats from the state budget to increase the authorized capital in connection with drilling at the Umid-Babak and Karabakh fields.

The Babak field has yet to be drilled. SOCAR is preparing for exploration work on the structure, which is scheduled to begin in 2020.

SOCAR is preparing a project to drill the first exploratory well on Babak structure. If the results of the exploratory well’s drilling are positive, SOCAR will build a platform there at the first stage and drill 4-5 wells for production. Gas production itself at the Babak field may start in 2024-2025.

In May 2018, it also became known that SOCAR is in talks with three foreign oil and gas giants to develop the Umid-Babak offshore gas project in the Caspian Sea. According to a high-ranking representative of SOCAR, French Total, British BP and Russian Lukoil show interest in the Umid-Babak project.

Regardless of the structure of the contract on development of the Umid-Babak block, the main task of SOCAR is to ensure the optimal development of the already explored deposit and to ensure exploratory drilling on promising structures.


A 30-year contract on Shafag-Asiman was signed in October 2010. The exploration period will be four years, with possibility of extension for three more years. Two wells are to be drilled within the first phase. Two more wells will be drilled within the second phase, if necessary.

In the operational period the sides will implement joint operatorship within the project. Shared participation in the contract between BP and SOCAR is equal (50/50).

The forecasted reserves of the Shafag-Asiman block stand at 500 billion cubic meters of gas and 65 million tons of condensate.

The block is located 125 kilometers to the south-east of Baku. Exploration work has not been conducted on the block yet. It is located at a depth of 650-800 meters with the depth of the reservoir at 7,000 meters.

Project status

BP-Azerbaijan in 2015 finished the processing of three-dimensional geophysical studies conducted at the "Shafag-Asiman" and continues the work to plan the drilling of the first exploration well.

According to SOCAR, drilling of the first exploratory well on the Shafag-Asiman block is planned to begin in 2019. Production at the block may start in 2030.

Deep-seated gas in Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli

Under the "Contract of the Century" signed by Azerbaijan in 1994, BP and its partners in the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) project have the right to develop oil layers to Fasile (Break) suite. Based on the Production Sharing Agreement, development of the lower horizons is the subject of a separate agreement.

The new agreement on extension of the ACG development until 2050, signed on Sept. 14, 2017, includes issues related to the first phase of deep-seated gas production at the block. However, the main part of the development of deep-seated gas will not be covered by the new contract.

According to the forecasts, the gas reserves in the lower horizons at the ACG are estimated at about 280 billion cubic meters.

Project status

According to SOCAR representatives, it is planned to start production of deep-seated gas at the ACG block of fields in 2019. The entire process of producing deep-seated gas at the ACG is divided into two phases.

The first phase will be implemented within the framework of the new agreement on ACG. The first phase is divided into two stages. A total of four wells will be drilled within the first phase. Following the first phase, SOCAR with partners will again return to discussing this issue in a different format. If it is possible to find a unified solution, the work will be continued, otherwise SOCAR will independently make a decision regarding the further work on this project.

The drilling of four wells within the first phase is related to meeting domestic demand for gas in Azerbaijan in the coming years.

Production of gas from the first two wells (the first stage) is planned in 2019. After all four wells are drilled, further possibilities will be evaluated. SOCAR has already sent an appeal regarding the drilling of the first two wells, and the preparatory work has begun. All wells will be drilled from the Deepwater Gunashli platform. This gas will be further transferred to SOCAR.


Araz-Alov-Sharg participating interests are: SOCAR – 40 percent, BP (operator) – 15 percent, Norwegian Statoil – 15 percent, US ExxonMobil – 15 percent, Turkish TPAO – 10 percent, Canadian Alberta Energy – 5 percent. Required investments are about $4 billion.

Project status

In March, a “Memorandum on mutual understanding between Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Petroleum of Iran on the joint development of relevant units in the Caspian Sea” was signed. As expected, the parties will create a joint venture.

The oil and gas agreement between Iran and Azerbaijan provides for the development of two blocks in the Caspian Sea. Araz-Alov-Sharg is mentioned among the discussed blocks. Its development is frozen until an agreement on the status of the Caspian Sea between Azerbaijan and Iran is reached.

Although the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea was signed in August 2018, there is still no information on the resumption of work at the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure.


SOCAR and Norway's Statoil signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the two prospective sites “Zafar” and “Mashal” in the spring of 2013. The memorandum envisages negotiations, coordination of basic commercial principles and conditions of a contract for the development and conclusion of the contract itself.

The first contract for development of the promising offshore Zafar-Mashal field was signed between the US ExxonMobil and SOCAR on Apr. 27, 1999. SOCAR owned 50 percent and ExxonMobil 30 percent. In 2000, the remaining 20 percent was transferred to the US ConocoPhillips.

The investments in the project were estimated at about $2 billion with projected volume of oil reserves at 140 million tons, 100 million of which accounted for Zafar and 40 million for Mashal.

According to SOCAR geologists' estimations, the reserves on this structure are estimated at 300 billion cubic meters of gas and 37 million tons of condensate.


The Karabakh field was discovered in 2000. Its initial oil reserves amount to 100 million tons. SOCAR operates Karabakh field’s development. In December 2017, SOCAR and Equinor (former Statoil) signed a contract, which includes main commercial principles and provisions of the risk service contract regarding the Karabakh field.

Project status

On May 30, 2018, SOCAR and Equinor signed two risk-service agreements (RSA) regarding the Karabakh field in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

The agreement provides for a 50%-50% share allocation.

The company expects to start production at the field in 2021.


The first contract on the development of the perspective offshore structure “Nakhchivan” was signed on Aug.1, 1997. The parties to the contract were ExxonMobil - 50 percent, SOCAR - 50 percent.

Project Status

In March 2010, SOCAR and German RWE signed a memorandum of understanding on the offshore perspective structure “Nakhchivan”. Under the terms of the memorandum, companies should have undertaken all necessary work to prepare a PSA by March 10, 2011. However, the contract remains unsigned.

The field's reserves are projected at 300 billion cubic meters of gas and 40 million tons of gas condensate.

Shallow waters around the Absheron Peninsula

SOCAR and BP signed a PSA-contract on joint exploration at the potentially promising structures located in the shallow waters of the Absheron Peninsula on December 22, 2014. This agreement is part of the government's plan to fully explore all the coastal areas of the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

The parties to the contract were BP - 50 percent, SOCAR - 50 percent.

The area of water, covered by the PSA agreement between SOCAR and BP to carry out the development and exploration work in the shallow waters of the Absheron Peninsula, extends along the southern part of the Peninsula. The area reaches 1,900 square kilometers. The sea depth is up to 40 meters in this territory, but the depth of the potentially productive strata is 3,000-5,000 meters.

Project status

BP in 2016 conducted primary seismic survey on potentially promising structures located in the shallow waters around the Absheron peninsula in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

The primary results of data processing reveal large potential in the contract area.

The stage of interpretation of seismic data is completed, and the work is underway to assess the resources. After this, the stage of determining economic profitability will begin.

The BP plans to drill two exploratory wells in the shallow waters of the Absheron Peninsula.

Block D230

In May 2016, BP and SOCAR signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly explore potential prospects in the block D230 in the North Absheron Basin in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea.

The MOU gives BP the exclusive right to negotiate an agreement with SOCAR to explore and develop the D230 Block.

The block covers areas in a water depth of up to 300 meters with the reservoir depth of 3,000-5,000 meters.

Project status

In April 2018, Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR and the BP signed a production sharing agreement on joint exploration and development of the D230 block in London.

According to the 25-year agreement, 50 percent of the stake will belong to BP, which will become the operator for the exploration period, and the remaining 50 percent will belong to SOCAR.

In November 2018, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev approved the law on granting permission to accept, approve and implement a production sharing agreement for joint exploration and development at the prospective block D230.


In September 2016, Malaysia’s Petronas oil and gas company and SOCAR entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons at a block in the potentially promising structure Goshadash in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

Petronas stated that the MoU on the development of the Goshadash block has expired. After conducting technical and commercial assessments, Petronas decided not to continue negotiations on the development of the block.

The Goshadash structure is located in the north-western part of the Absheron archipelago, in 15 kilometers from the coast, at a distance of 35-40 kilometers from Baku. The depth of water here is 10-50 meters.

Project status

SOCAR is processing and interpreting the data obtained during a seismic survey on the Goshadash prospective structure. Further work is planned for a deeper analysis of the potential of the Goshadash perspective structure in Azerbaijan.


Follow the author on Twitter: @IsrafilbekovaS

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