BP Amoco to Drill Second Azeri Test Well in May

BAKU (Reuters)–The BP Amoco led Shakh Deniz oil consortium will start drilling its second exploration well in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea at the beginning of May–a spokesman for the consortium said on Wednesday.

The oil group–in which BP Amoco has a 25.5 percent stake–will drill the second well with the upgraded semi-submersible rig Istiglal–which has been undergoing repairs since late February.

"We’re hoping to start drilling a second well in early May with Istiglal," said Peter Henshaw–BP Amoco vice president in Baku.

"Progress has been made on the location of the second well–but it has not been finally decided as we still need more data from the first well," Henshaw told Reuters.

Results from the first well–which is being closely watched by other oil majors exploring in the South Caspian basin–have yet to be announced.

"In the next seven to 10 days–we should have a full picture of the first well," said Mitat Rzayev–head of exploration at Azeri state oil company SOCAR.

Rzayev said the well had been drilled to 6,200 meters and needed to go another 200 meters further before core samples could be taken and analyzed.

Positive results from the key $2.5 billion Shakh Deniz project could boost confidence in the region that was hit by last year’s oil price slump–poor exploration results and the recent closure of two consortia.

SOCAR geologists estimated the Shakh Deniz structure could contain around 450 billion cubic meters of gas and 20 million tons of oil.

Other geologists believe there are much larger reserves of oil–but only at depths of below six kilometers.

Members of the group are operator BP Amoco–Norwegian Statoil (25.5 percent)–Russian LUKoil–French Elf Aquitaine–SOCAR–and Iranian OIEC (10.0 percent each) and Turkish Petroleum (9.0 percent).

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