TotalEnergies fires up gas production from huge Caspian Sea field

French giant TotalEnergies has kick-started gas production from the long-awaited Absheron offshore gas development in Azerbaijan’s deep-water sector of the Caspian Sea.

TotalEnergies on Monday confirmed the development and said that along with partner state-owned Socar, it has started production from the “first phase of development of the Absheron gas and condensate field in the Caspian Sea, around 100 kilometres southeast of Baku”.

“The development of the Absheron field provides an additional gas supply to meet growing demand, at a competitive technical cost and low greenhouse gas emissions intensity, in line with TotalEnergies’ strategy,” the French company stated.

TotalEnergies added that said that the project’s first phase “connects a subsea production well to a new gas processing platform, itself linked to Socar’s existing facilities”.

The first phase has a production capacity of 4 million cubic metres per day of gas and 12,000 barrels per day of condensate, the company said, adding that the gas will be sold on Azerbaijan’s domestic market.

TotalEnergies and Socar both hold a 50% interest in the project, which is operated by Joint Operating Company of Absheron Petroleum (Jocap).

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Nicolas Terraz, president of TotalEnergies’ exploration and production business, stated that the project “is in line with the company’s strategy of meeting the growing demand for gas and reinforces our partnership with the national company Socar”.

Gas imports

Absheron’s progress is being closely watched in Europe, where officials hope to double imports of Azerbaijan gas over the next several years to compensate for lost Russian pipeline gas deliveries.

According to a partner with Baku-based energy consultancy Caspian Barrel, Ilham Shaban, the first 50 billion cubic metres of Absheron’s gas output are reserved for the domestic market to help free up volumes from other Azeri projects for export.

Once the domestic supply commitment is fulfilled, gas from Absheron could be exported to help meet Baku’s promises of higher gas deliveries to Europe, Shaban said.

According to TotalEnergies, the early production system scheme for Absheron is based on the tie-back of one subsea well — ABD001 — to a shallow-water receiving platform near Azeri national oil company Socar’s operated Oil Rocks field, 34 kilometres to the north.

After gas and liquids are separated on the platform, produced gas and condensate will be exported to shore through existing Socar infrastructure.

Natural gas will be delivered to the Azeri domestic market and condensate shipped to export destinations via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline through a swap agreement, TotalEnergies said.

Sizeable reserves

Absheron is believed to contain recoverable gas reserves of about 350 Bcm and more than 800 million barrels of condensate.

Authorities in Baku hope the start-up of early gas production at Absheron will revive interest from major international oil and gas investors that has waned since BP exited another Caspian exploration project in Azerbaijan, known as the Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula block.