Japanese Consortium to Exit Caspian Sea Project

The Japan Azerbaijan Operating Co has revealed that it has decided to exit its project in the Caspian Sea after failing to find commercial quantities of oil or gas reserves. A spokesperson for the company said that they will close the project when the exploration period has ended which is October 21, 2003. Two of the consortium's partners, Itochu and Teikoku had earlier said they could study the project until 2004 even though it had lost $100 million on exploration activities. The last exploration well drilled in March on the Atechgyah structure failed to find commercial amounts of oil or gas. And, last year the first well on the nearby Yanan-Tava field came up dry. The group will now reduce the number of employees in Baku beginning in July.

Azerbaijan has signed 21 production sharing agreements worth $60 billion with international oil firms over the past decade, but after a number of failures the number of projects still in place has fallen to 14. The remaining contracts are worth approximately $45 billion.