Total starts drilling on Apsheron block off Azerbaijan

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 -- State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) said Total SA has begun exploratory drilling on Apsheron block in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.

The well is expected to take 8 months to drill. “If the drilling is successful, the final result will be known in the first quarter of 2012.”said a Socar official.

Analyst IHS Global Insight said drilling of the first exploratory well at Apsheron under the current PSA was held up several times, with an earlier timetable to launch work last September postponed due to delays in delivery of a drilling rig from the Kazakh sector of the Caspian.

Total signed a production-sharing agreement in 2009 with Azerbaijan for the block, which it is believed could contain some 300 billion cu m of natural gas and 45 million tonnes of condensate. Estimates put the cost of the first exploration work at $200 million.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, Azerbaijan became a net exporter of natural gas in 2007 with the startup of the Shah Deniz natural gas field. In 2009, Azerbaijan exported some 209 bcf of gas, shipping it mainly via the South Caucasus Pipeline.

Earlier this week, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and European Commission Pres. Jose Manuel Barroso signed a joint declaration on the establishment of a Southern Gas Corridor, with Azerbaijan set to become a long-term and “substantial contributor” to the project (OGJ Online, Jan. 19, 2011).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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