BP to develop gas fields in Azerbaijan

BP is expected to close a deal with Azerbaijan’s national oil company today to explore and develop a huge natural-gas field in the Caspian Sea.

The field, Shafag-Asiman, has estimated reserves of 17 trillion cubic feet, according to the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (Socar). If confirmed, that would make it almost as large as Azerbaijan’s massive Shah Deniz gas field, where BP is already operating.

The deal is BP’s first since Bob Dudley took over as chief executive of the energy giant. Dudley is currently visiting BP’s operations in Azerbaijan along with his predecessor, Tony Hayward.

The deal is a 50-50 production-sharing agreement over 30 years and would cement BP’s position in the oil-rich former Soviet republic, where it is one of the country’s biggest foreign investors.

BP is the largest producer in Azerbaijan and one of the largest investors in the country, having played a key role in opening it to international oil companies after the fall of the Soviet Union. Developing the Shafag-Asiman gas field would also reinforce Azerbaijan'’ role as a rising gas producer and exporter. Meanwhile, Russian joint venture TNK-BP has stepped up its efforts to buy BP’s assets in Algeria, which the company is selling as part of a $30bn asset disposal plan.

TIME LINE | IRELAND’S MISERY

6 October 2010
Fitch cuts Ireland's credit rating to A+ from AA-, citing the huge cost of cleaning up its banks. Fitch also put its rating on a negative outlook.

30 September 2010
Ireland discloses a worst case price tag of over €50bn (£44bn) for bailing out its banks and announces it will have to make more budget savings.

28 September 2010
Standard & Poor's and Fitch warn Ireland's rating is at risk of further downgrades triggering a fresh leap in borrowing costs and calls for the beleaguered government to bring forward its budget from December.

9 September 2010
The government outlines a compromise plan to wind down Anglo via a two-way split into an Asset Recovery Bank and a Funding Bank.

24 August 2010
Standard & Poor's cuts Ireland's long-term rating by one notch to 'AA-', and assigns the country a negative outlook. Moody's cut its rating to Aa2 in July.

10 August 2009
Anglo Irish Bank wins temporary clearance from the EU for a fresh bailout of up to €10bn, more than expected.