BP: Azeri Oil Field Partially Restarted

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), December 24, 2008

The 350,000 barrel-a-day Central Azeri oil field in Azerbaijan has been partially restarted after the installation of additional safety and monitoring equipment, a spokeswoman for operator BP PLC (BP) said Wednesday.

Three out of 13 production wells on the field resumed operation on Dec. 19, she said. It is not possible to say when it will be fully restarted because BP needs to complete additional work before that is possible, she said. BP expects to operate three to five wells on the field until a full restart, she added.

Production at the Central Azeri and West Azeri platforms at the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli, or ACG, fields in the Caspian Sea was halted in September as a precaution after a gas leak was discovered near the Central Azeri platform. The shutdown cut output from ACG to 350,000 barrels a day from 850,000 barrels a day.

West Azeri restarted in October. Central Azeri comprises two platforms connected by a bridge and the spokeswoman said BP is now satisfied it is safe to resume production on one of the platforms. "We will continue to work towards a full restart," and so far progress is very good, she said.

Azerbaijan's energy minister Natik Aliev told Dow Jones Newswires last week that his country may cut oil production by 300,000 barrels a day to support the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its efforts to support falling oil prices. The cut would affect output from the ACG fields, he said.

OPEC said last week it will cut an additional 2.2 million barrels a day from its oil output.


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