Archive for the ‘Caspian Sea Oil’ Category

You really can’t begin to understand conflicts in the Middle East without this specific issue — Oil. See my previous posts about the Caspian Sea.

PM Davutoglu calls TANAP project ‘dream come true’
World Bulletin online
19 September 2014

tanap-nabucco
Davutoglu describes the Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline as a peace project connecting Caucasus to Balkans. The Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline, TANAP – a pipeline that will transport gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field to Europe through Turkey – will be a dream come true, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday ahead of his official visit to Azerbaijan.

Following Davutoglu’s upcoming talks on Friday on bilateral relations and regional and international developments with Azerbaijani officials, the TANAP project foundations will be laid Saturday which Davutoglu described as a ‘peace project’ that will connect the Caucasus with the Balkans.

An estimated 6 billion cubic meters of gas will be delivered to Turkey and 10 billion cubic meters to Europe via the TANAP pipeline which is projected to be opened in 2018 and in which Turkey has a 30 percent share in the project.

Turkey’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Taner Yildiz and Azerbaijan’s Minister of Industry and Energy Natig Aliyev signed the memorandum of understanding on the TANAP on 26 May, 2014.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/news/144684/pm-davutoglu-calls-tanap-project-dream-come-true

For more indepth, historical and detailed information, please see:

Turkey and the new energy politics of the Black Sea region
Black Sea News
25 February 2013

Eurasia-s-tit

Mitat CELIKPALA,
Associate Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University, Istanbul

Turkey signed two significant energy agreements at the end of 2011. As a consequence, these accords set off a new competition for natural gas-centered energy projects around Turkey. Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Iran and the European Union are the main actors in this contest. This paper aims to assess all the related and ensuing developments in the Black Sea Region through the lenses of Turkey’s role, strategy and priorities….

BotasProjeE-s

central asian pipelines 3

Conclusion

In sum, the Turkey-centric energy game in the region embracing the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Middle East and Europe is reminiscent of the 2004- 2008 period, during which energy prices and the competition for constructing alternative pipelines peaked.

transportation-final-s

http://www.blackseanews.net/en/read/57572

I’m still interested in the Caspian Sea. (See https://tapister.wordpress.com/category/caspian-sea-oil/) While oil and gas are still my primary interests, today I’m also curious about water. Who owns the water in the Caspian Sea? Can Iran just siphon it off, without getting permission from the other littoral states? Or the major gas/oil conglomerates operating there? I’ve done an internet search about it and really didn’t find anything that addresses that question. Here’s some of what I did find today.

Its Great Lake Shriveled, Iran Confronts Crisis of Water Supply
New York Times online
JAN. 30, 2014

LakeUrmiaIranLAKE URMIA, Iran — An abandoned ship rusts in the mud on the south shore of Lake Urmia, where only 5 percent of the water remains, Iranian environmental officials say. Morteza Nikoubazl for The New York Times.

After driving for 15 minutes over the bottom of what was once Iran’s largest lake, a local environmental official stepped out of his truck, pushed his hands deep into his pockets and silently wandered into the great dry plain, as if searching for water he knew he would never find.

Just an hour earlier, on a cold winter day here in western Iran, the official, Hamid Ranaghadr, had recalled how as recently as a decade ago, cruise ships filled with tourists plied the lake’s waters in search of flocks of migrating flamingos.

Now, the ships are rusting in the mud and the flamingos fly over the remains of the lake on their way to more hospitable locales. According to figures compiled by the local environmental office, only 5 percent of the water remains.

Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country. President Hassan Rouhani has identified water as a national security issue, and in public speeches in areas struck hardest by the shortage he is promising to “bring the water back.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/world/middleeast/its-great-lake-shriveled-iran-confronts-crisis-of-water-supply.html?_r=0

Iran’s parliament approves project on transfer of water from Caspian Sea
Trend online magazine
Jan 23, 2014

Iranian parliament has approved the project on transfer of water from the Caspian Sea to the deserts in the country’s central parts, Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said, Mehr News Agency reported on Jan. 23. The minister noted that funds have been allocated from Iran’s state budget for this project.

Commenting on the Lake Urmia revival project the minister added that a committee was created for saving the lake. The committee will be chaired by Iranian First Vice President, Eshaq Jahangiri.

In April 2012 the former president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the foundation-laying of an irrigation system designed for transferring of water from the Caspian Sea. However Iranian MPs and some economic experts considered this project ineffective and demanded suspension of its implementation, after which construction was delayed.

The project for transfer of the Caspian Sea waters to the central regions of Iran includes: construction of hydroelectric power stations, a desalination plant, pumping stations, power lines, water pipes and tanks, according to the message.

The headquarters of Khatam-ol-Anbia, affiliated with the Islamic Republic of Iran Guard Corps (IRGC) will control the project’s realization, according to the message.

http://en.trend.az/news/politics/2233429.html

Deputy FM in Astana to Participate in Caspian Sea Working Group
Tasnimnews.com
January 29, 2014

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Deputy Foreign Minister for Asian and Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour left Tehran for Kazakhstan capital city, Astana, Wednesday to participate in the 35th meeting of the special working group of the Caspian Sea.

The working group session on the Convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea will be held in Astana for two days with the special representatives and deputies minister of the five littoral countries of the Caspian Sea.

The deputy foreign ministers of Iran, Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan will in the meeting discuss the latest developments regarding the legal regime of the Caspian Sea and prepare a report for the upcoming ministerial meeting due to be held in Russia this spring. Moscow will also host The Caspian Sea Littoral States Summit late in summer.

The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed water body on earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea.

The Caspian Sea Convention will determine the territorial rights of littoral states- Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan – as well as other matters related to the world’s largest landlocked body of water.

The Caspian Sea legal regime is based on two agreements signed between Iran and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1921 and 1940. The three new littoral states, established after the collapse of the Soviet Union, have not recognized the prior treaties, triggering a debate on the future status of the sea.

http://www.tasnimnews.com/English/Home/Single/263554

BP Starts Production at West Chirag in Caspian Sea
Wall Street Journal online
Jan. 29, 2014

CaspianOilFieldsLONDON—Oil major BP PLC said Wednesday that production has started at the West Chirag platform of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea, completing the Chirag oil project which was sanctioned in 2010.

West Chirag production began from a pre-drilled well called J05 on Jan. 28 and will increase throughout this year as other pre-drilled wells are brought on line, BP said without indicating volumes. However, BP said the new platform has a capacity for 183,000 barrels a day with a gas export capacity of 285 million standard cubic feet a day.

“The startup of Chirag oil project marks a major milestone in the development of the super-giant ACG [Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field],” Gordon Birrell, BP’s Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey said.

“To date the ACG field has produced over 2.3 billion barrels of oil and with future continual major investments in new technologies and facilities, like the one we have today started up, it will continue to produce as a world-class reservoir for many decades,”, Mr. Birrell added.

BP is operator of the field with a 35.8% interest. Partners in the field include SOCAR with 11.6%, Chevron CVX -4.14% Corp with 11.3%, Inpex Corp with 11%, Statoil AS STL.OS -1.46% A with 8.6%, Exxon Mobil Corp with 8%, TPAO with 6.8%, Itochu 8001.TO +0.56% Corp with 4.3% and ONGC Videsh Ltd. with 2.7%.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304428004579350491065104568

BP Seeks ACG Extension to Maintain Output at Largest Azeri Field
Bloomberg News
Jan 29, 2014

BP Plc (BP/) is seeking to extend its oil contract on the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field beyond 2024 to allow more investment and sustain output at the largest Azeri deposit after its local partner last year said there weren’t such plans.

The Caspian Sea field produced 32.5 million tons of oil in 2013, down from 32.9 million tons. While the new $6 billion West Chirag platform that started output yesterday will help offset natural decline, BP said at least one more is needed by 2021.

“We are talking to State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan about the next phase,” Gordon Birrel, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey manager, said in Baku, the Azeri capital. “But we have no fixed and agreed plans at this point. This field needs investment and at least one more platform to maintain production.”

West Chirag is estimated to produce about 60,000 barrels a day, or 3 million tons, this year, he said. The platform will have at least 14 wells, with six running this year, Birrel said. It’s the largest and most technologically advanced of the eight current platforms in Azerbaijan’s section of the Caspian Sea, he said. The site has a capacity of 183,000 barrels of oil a day.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-29/bp-seeks-acg-extension-to-maintain-output-at-largest-azeri-field.html

(Why Americans should care about “the rest of the story” in Afghanistan.)

From The Wonders Of Pakistan blog online
24 Nov 2011

“If one looks at the map of the big American bases created [in the Afghan war], one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean.”

In January 2009, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, then NATO Secretary General, said, “Protecting pipelines is first and foremost a national responsibility. And it should stay like that. NATO is not in the business of protecting pipelines. But when there’s a crisis, or if a certain nation asks for assistance, NATO could, I think, be instrumental in protecting pipelines on land.”

These comments suggest that NATO troops could be called upon to assist Afghanistan in protecting the pipeline. Since pipelines last 50 years or more, this could auger a very long commitment in Afghanistan.

EURASIA’S PIPELINE TANGLE
by Abdus Sattar Ghazali

On November 14, Pakistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to build the $7.6 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project under which Pakistan will get 1.3 billion cubic feet per day of gas. The agreement was signed during a visit by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan to Islamabad.

The trans-Afghanistan pipeline, first proposed in early 1990s, will transport Caspian Sea natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India….

The original project started on 15 March 1995 when an inaugural memorandum of understanding between the governments of Turkmenistan and Pakistan for a pipeline project was signed. This project was promoted by Argentinian company, Bridas Corporation.

The U.S. company Unocal, in conjunction with the Saudi oil company Delta, promoted alternative project without Bridas’ involvement. In 1995, Unocal signed an $8 billion deal with Turkmenistan to construct two pipelines (one for oil, one for gas), as part of a larger plan for two pipelines intended to transport oil and gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and into Pakistan. In August 1996, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline, Ltd. (CentGas) consortium for construction of a pipeline, led by Unocal, was formed.

Since the pipeline was to pass through Afghanistan, it was necessary to work with the Taliban. In January 1998, the Taliban regime, selected CentGas over Argentinian competitor Bridas Corporation, and signed an agreement that allowed the proposed project to proceed.

In 1997, representatives of the Taliban are invited to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Future President George W. Bush is Governor of Texas at the time. The Taliban appear to agree to a $2 billion pipeline deal, but will do the deal only if the US officially recognizes the Taliban regime. The Taliban meet with US officials.

According to the Daily Telegraph, “the US government, which in the past has branded the Taliban’s policies against women and children ‘despicable,’ appears anxious to please the fundamentalists to clinch the lucrative pipeline contract.”

It was reported that the Taliban met with Enron officials while in Texas. Enron, headquartered in Texas, had a large financial interest in the pipeline at the time.

On April 17, 1998, Bill Richardson, the US Ambassador to the UN, meets Taliban officials in Kabul. (All such meetings were illegal, because the US still officially recognizes the government the Taliban ousted as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.) US officials at the time call the oil and gas pipeline project a “fabulous opportunity” and are especially motivated by the “prospect of circumventing Iran, which offers another route for the pipeline.” [Boston Globe, 9/20/2001]

On December 5, 1998, Unocal announces it is withdrawing from the CentGas pipeline consortium, and closing three of its four offices in Central Asia. President Clinton refuses to extend diplomatic recognition to the Taliban, making business there legally problematic.

Interestingly, the 9/11 Commission later concludes that some State Department diplomats are willing to “give the Taliban a chance” because it might be able to bring stability to Afghanistan, which would allow a Unocal oil pipeline to be built through the country. [9/11 Commission, 3/24/2004]

The TAP project was revived less than one month after the 9/11 attacks when US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin meets (Oct 9, 2001) with the Pakistani oil minister to brief on the gas pipeline project from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to Pakistan, which appears to be revived “in view of recent geopolitical developments.” [Frontier Post – 10/10/2011]

On May 30, 2002, Afghanistan’s interim leader, Hamid Karzai (who formerly worked for Unocal), Turkmenistan’s President Niyazov, and Pakistani President General Musharraf meet in Islamabad to sign a memorandum of understanding on the trans-Afghanistan gas pipeline project.

TAP is consistent with the US declared policy of linking Central and South Asia and diversifying export routes for Turkmen gas.

The proposed 1,680 kilometres pipeline could carry one trillion cubic metres of Turkmen gas over a 30-year period, according to Turkmen Oil and Gas Minister Bayramgeldy Nedirov. But the route, particularly the 735 kilometres Afghan leg, presents significant security challenges.

In January 2009, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, then NATO Secretary General, said, “Protecting pipelines is first and foremost a national responsibility. And it should stay like that. NATO is not in the business of protecting pipelines. But when there’s a crisis, or if a certain nation asks for assistance, NATO could, I think, be instrumental in protecting pipelines on land.”

These comments suggest that NATO troops could be called upon to assist Afghanistan in protecting the pipeline. Since pipelines last 50 years or more, this could auger a very long commitment in Afghanistan. [Journal of Energy Security, March 23, 2010]

The trans-Afghanistan pipeline (TAPI) agreement has been signed at a time when Washington is pressing Islamabad to abandon the pipeline project to supply Iranian gas to Pakistan.

Washington has never tried to hide its opposition to Pakistan`s plans for importing gas from Iran and has always pressured it to seek alternate options. The purpose has been to isolate Tehran in the region over its nuclear program. Apparently, it was under US pressure that India decided to opt out of the project in 2009. In return, New Delhi successfully secured US cooperation for its civil nuclear power projects in 2008.

In January 2010, the United States asked Pakistan to abandon the pipeline project. If canceling the project, Pakistan would receive assistance from the United States for construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal and importing electricity from Tajikistan through Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. [Times of India – Sept 7, 2009]

On April 12, 2010, Iran announced that it has completed construction of 1,000 kilometers of the pipeline out of the 1,100 kilometers portion on Iranian soil. On this Iranian ambassador to Pakistan said that “Iran has done her job and it now depends on Pakistan”. The construction of the pipeline on Iranian side is on pace to be completed by 2011.

….

According to newspaper reports on 17 June 2011, Iran has given up talks with India on the pipeline and is pursuing the pipeline bilaterally with Pakistan. In July 2011, Pakistani minister for petroleum and natural resources announced that Iran has finished its work on laying the pipeline and Pakistan would start the work for building the pipeline within the next six months.

In November 2010, a Wikileaks cable disclosed that American diplomats had said it was “unlikely that Iran would build a gas pipeline to Pakistan.” Washington opposes the deal because of the economic benefits for Tehran, which has been subject to the United States and international community’s sanctions against Iran. The diplomatic cable noted that the planned pipeline would not move forward because, “the Pakistanis don’t have the money to pay for either the pipeline, or the gas.” [Wikipedia]

The 2,775-kilometre (1,724 mi) pipeline will be supplied from the South Pars field. It will start from Asalouyeh and stretch over 1,100 kilometres (680 mi) through Iran. In Pakistan, it will pass through Balochistan and Sindh. In Khuzdar, a branch would spur-off to Karachi, while the main pipeline will continue towards Multan. From Multan, the pipeline may be expanded to India.

Commenting on the TAPI agreement, Pakistan’s leading newspaper The Nation said: “Pakistan seems to have succumbed to US pressure and sacrificed its national interest in pursuit of the American desire to bypass Iran.”

The paper said, apart from the relative merits of the projects, one of the biggest services the present government can perform for the USA is to give the impression that the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline is in any way a substitute for the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline.

The Nation emphasized that Pakistan needs both the projects if it is to meet the gas shortages that have already hit the country in the past, and which will further worsen, reaching new heights this winter.

————————————

The writer Abdus Sattar Ghazali is Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective: http://www.amperspective.com email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com

http://wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/the-politics-of-gas-pipelines-in-asia/#more-25322

I’ve been reading opinion pieces questioning the continued U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Reasons given by the administration don’t make common sense, in many minds. For the last year or so I’ve been looking at this situation from a different perspective: “Follow the oil.” (See previous entries on the Caspian Sea.) Here’s an article from UPI online dated August 5, 2010 that adds to my interest.

MOSCOW, Aug. 5 (UPI) — The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, first proposed in 1995, is back on the drawing boards.

The TAPI technical working group’s executive committee — originally the Trans-Afghan Pipeline, “TAP,” now “TAPI” with the inclusion of Pakistan and India — stated that construction of TAPI could maintain and strengthen political stability throughout Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Itar-Tass reported Thursday.

Stretching 1,043 miles from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gas field to the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka, the $3.3 billion pipeline’s annual throughput of 33 billion cubic meters will be delivered to consumers in Pakistan and India after transiting Afghanistan.

Despite the ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan, in 2005 the Asian Development Bank financed technical feasibility study.

The project has a long genesis. In 1996 a memorandum of understanding resulted in the establishment of a consortium led by Unocal, the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Ltd. A Taliban delegation subsequently visited Unocal headquarters in Texas and in January 1997 the Taliban approved TAP’s construction. Afghanistan’s current President Hamid Karzai at the time worked for Unocal.

Whatever chances the project had were set on hold in the rising chaos in the aftermath of November 2001’s Operation Enduring Freedom, which quickly drove the Taliban from power, invalidating the arrangements.

Despite Karzai’s persistent support for the project, security of TAPI’s route through Afghanistan remains a major impediment to the project’s realization, though in 2008 the Afghan government made several pledges to relieve those concerns.

As the Obama administration is continuing its predecessor’s policy of containment and isolation of both Russia and Iran, TAPI is currently the most significant undeveloped southern output project for Central Asian natural gas and oil.

A problem with TAPI that has yet to be addressed is whether Turkmenistan will be able to provide the required throughout, should the natural gas pipeline be built.

At present Turkmenistan exports pipeline gas to China, Russia and Iran. In 2006 Turkmenistan produced 62.2 bcm of natural gas, second only to Russia. With 2005 domestic consumption estimated at 17.07 bcm, approximately 45 bcm, or more than two-thirds of Turkmen production, was available for export.

The three above-mentioned countries now account for virtually all of Turkmenistan’s exports for the foreseeable future. Most notably, recently a Turkmen-China natural gas pipeline agreed in 2006 capable of handling up 30 bcm annually came online, providing an export route for Turkmen natural gas exports for the near future.

How TAPI, which at present would be constructed through a war zone, could compete with Turkmenistan’s pre-existing markets in China, Russia and Iran remains to be seen.

http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/08/05/TAPI-natural-gas-pipeline-through-Afghanistan-revived/UPI-84281281037736/

Also see – many maps, including proposed pipelines:

http://www.thedossier.ukonline.co.uk/maps_charts.htm

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 23, 2010, 1:23 PM (GMT+02:00)

In a rare move, Iran has declared a state of war on its northwestern border, Debkafile’s military and Iranian sources report. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps men and equipment units are being massed in the Caspian Sea region against what Tehran claims are US and Israeli forces concentrated on army and air bases in Azerbaijan ready to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The announcement came on Tuesday, June 22 from Brig.-Gen Mehdi Moini of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), commander of the forces tasked with “repelling” this American-Israeli offensive. He said: “The mobilization is due to the presence of American and Israeli forces on the western border,” adding, “Reinforcements are being dispatched to West Azerbaijan Province because some western countries are fueling ethnic conflicts to destabilize the situation in the region.”

In the past, Iranian officials have spoken of US and Israel attacks in general terms. Debkafile’s Iranian sources note that this is the first time that a specific location was mentioned and large reinforcements dispatched to give the threat substance.

Other Iranian sources report that in the last few days, Israel has secretly transferred a large number of bomber jets to bases in Azerbaijan, via Georgia, and that American special forces are also concentrated in Azerbaijan in preparation for a strike.

No comment has come from Azerbaijan about any of these reports. Iranian Azerbaijan, the destination of the Revolutionary Guards forces reinforcements, borders on Turkey, Iran and Armenia. Witnesses say long IRGC convoys of tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft units and infantry are seen heading up the main highways to Azerbaijan and then further north to the Caspian Sea.

On Tuesday, June 22, Dr. Uzi Arad, head of Israel’s National Security Council and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest adviser, said “The latest round of UN Security Council sanctions on Iran is inadequate for thwarting its nuclear progress. A preemptive military strike might eventually be necessary.”

Debkafile’s intelligence and Iranian sources point to three other developments as setting off Iran’s war alert:

1. A certain (limited) reinforcement of American and Israeli forces has taken place in Azerbaijan. Neither Washington nor Jerusalem has ever acknowledged a military presence in this country that borders on Iran, but Western intelligence sources say that both keep a wary eye on the goings-on inside Iran from electronic surveillance bases in that country.

2. Iran feels moved to respond to certain US steps: The arrival of the USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and its war games with France and Israel, which included live-fire bombing practices against targets in Iran.

3. The execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni Baluchi rebel organization (including the Iranian Baluchis), on June 20 was intended as a deterrent for Iran’s other minorities. Instead, they are more restive than ever. Several Azeri breakaway movements operate in Iranian Azerbaijan in combination with their brethren across the border. Tehran decided a substantial buildup in the province would serve as a timely measure against possible upheavals.

http://www.debka.com/article/8868/

http://www.offshore-mag.com

Caspian Sea set for offshore resurgence
Ian Thom – Wood Mackenzie
1 March 2010

“As of Jan. 1, 2010, BP has the most valuable upstream portfolio (amongst international companies) in the Caspian offshore sector due to its stakes in ACG and Shah Deniz.”

The Caspian Sea is the setting for some of the world’s oldest offshore oil developments. These date to the late 1940s in Azerbaijan, when the Pirallahi, Gurgany Deniz, and Chilov Adasy fields were brought onstream. Azerbaijan remained a prominent offshore producer through the 1950s and, for a while, the Neft Dashlary field took on the mantle of the world’s biggest offshore project.

Despite this early success, over the next 40 years Azeri exploration and production failed to extend much beyond the shallow water Absheron Peninsula area. The priorities of the Soviet state shifted onshore to reserves in the West Siberian basin, and the indigenous industry lacked the technology, experience, and inclination to invest in the known giant reserves of the deeper water Caspian.

Fast-forward to the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, when the Caspian was restored to its place of prominence in the international offshore industry. The newly independent states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan sought partnerships with international oil companies to develop their natural resources and to provide much-needed revenue for the bankrupt, fledgling states.

Now, less than 20 years later, the Caspian offshore is one of the world’s most important sources of oil and gas production growth. In 2010, offshore production is expected to top 1.5 MMboe/d, with plans in place to reach 3 MMboe/d by 2020.

Three giant offshore fields – Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG), Shah Deniz, and Kashagan – account for the majority of oil and gas investment, and about two-thirds of remaining reserves. ACG and Shah Deniz are providing steadily increasing revenues to the Azeri state and its international partners, while critical new regional infrastructure has been installed in the form of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and South Caucasus pipelines.

In Kazakhstan, the Kashagan field is expected to export its first oil in 2013, with construction of a major new export pipeline anticipated for full field development. These new pipelines will unlock reserves in the giant fields while acting as a catalyst for myriad smaller projects which will be ready for development over the next two decades.

ACG

The giant ACG field contributes over 1% of global oil supply. It was discovered in 1979, although the production sharing agreement (PSA) was only signed in 1994, with first production three years later. The development comprises five fixed platforms, a large processing facility onshore with oil exported through the 1 MMb/d, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. Production has increased steadily since 2005, and is approaching its plateau level of around 1 MMb/d. Subsea tiebacks are installed in the deeper water parts of the Guneshli field, and are the first examples of this technology in the Caspian Sea.

The project partners are BP (34.14% and operator), Chevron (10.28%), INPEX (10%), SOCAR (10%), Statoil (8.56%), ExxonMobil (8%), TPAO (6.75%), Devon Energy (5.63%), Itochu (3.92%), and Hess Corp. (2.72%). Reserves of around 5.4 Bbbl of oil should be produced within the contract period. A further billion barrels of reserves could be added with development of the Balakhany reservoirs, and by enhanced recovery from existing pay zones.

Shah Deniz

Gas from the giant Shah Deniz gas-condensate field is exported to Georgia and Turkey, and ultimately could reach the European market. The field was discovered in 1999 and began production in 2006 from a jackup platform. Well output has averaged 175 MMcf/d. The project partners are BP (25.5%), Statoil (25.5%), LUKoil (10%), National Iranian Oil Co. (10%), SOCAR (10%), Total (10%), and TPAO (9%). The project is jointly operated by BP and Statoil. BP is responsibile for the operations while Statoil manages the commercial aspects of Phase 1 contracts. The field has commercial reserves of over 22 tcf of gas, although only 6.6 tcf is contracted under the first development phase. The operator plans a second phase, which is yet to be sanctioned, to involve construction of an additional platform and subsea facilities to recover of another 10-15 tcf. Gas from the second phase is hotly sought after by a number of competing pipeline projects vying to supply the European market.

Kashagan

The super-giant Kashagan field, largest in the Caspian, is huge even in global terms, with an estimated 13 Bbbl of oil reserves. Its development is proving to be one of the world’s largest and most complex engineering projects. It was discovered in 2000 and is part of the North Caspian Sea PSA. The first development phase is under way, and production is expected to begin in 2013. The field is expected to produce 1.5 MMb/d at plateau, around 10 years after first oil, although these later phases have to be sanctioned by the partners and government, and are subject to huge uncertainties over timing and cost.

The partners are Eni (16.81%), ExxonMobil (16.81%), KazMunaiGas (16.81%), Shell (16.81%), Total (16.81%), ConocoPhillips (8.4%), and INPEX (7.56%). The project operator is North Caspian Operating Co. (NCOC). It is responsible for general management but some of the individual partners have specific roles. Eni is responsible for Phase 1 development until first oil. Thereafter, Shell will have the offshore operations role for Phase 1 and the offshore development role in further phases.

Upstream rankings

As of Jan. 1, 2010, BP has the most valuable upstream portfolio (amongst international companies) in the Caspian offshore sector due to its stakes in ACG and Shah Deniz. ExxonMobil and Total occupy second and third position, although neither has a major operated project, while the main Kashagan partners occupy positions two through six. For comparison, the cumulative remaining value (NPV10) to the four littoral states amounts to $280 billion – a factor of 20 greater than BP.

LUKoil ranks highest in terms of remaining reserves, due to its stakes in Severnyi block, Khvalynskoye, and Shah Deniz. This contrasts to its eighth place in value terms – a contrast which reflects the early stage of the Severnyi development (with major expenditures still to come), its liability for Russian oil export duty, and the large proportion of gas reserves. The main Kashagan partners also rank highly, along with BP and SOCAR.

http://bit.ly/cByYX3