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Cablegate: Azerbaijan Seeks to Develop Acg Deep Gas, Can

DE RUEHKB #0947/01 2821027
P 081027Z OCT 08

Wednesday, 08 October 2008, 10:27
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAKU 000947
EO 12958 DECL: 09/06/2018
REF: A. A) BAKU 919 B. B) BAKU 897 C. C) BAKU 883
Classified By: Ambassador Anne E. Derse, Reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (C) SUMMARY: BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader told USG interlocutors that there will be “plenty of gas” for Azerbaijan to sell to Georgia this winter. This is a result of oil production problems at the offshore ACG oil mega-field, which continues to cost the GOAJ tens of millions of dollars in lost revenues, and the resulting technological prohibition on re-injecting the gas. Post-Georgia conflict, the GOAJ has shown renewed interest in the AIOC Consortium developing the second largest known gas field in Azerbaijan after Shah Deniz, referred to as ACG “Deep Gas.” BP has revised upwards its production estimate for Shah Deniz Phase Two from 13 to 16 bcm/a - a development which, in conjunction with the extra one bcm/a that will be gained from debottlenecking Shah Deniz Phase One, could help alleviate differences on supply volumes between Azerbaijan and Turkey. AIOC partners have not yet been able to resolve Shah Deniz Phase I pricing discrepancies with Turkey; the case could be headed to international arbitration. BP Azerbaijan continues to maintain that Nabucco is “a good project, but ten years too early.” END SUMMARY
2. (C) On September 29 BP Azerbaijan President Bill Schrader met with Ambassador Derse and UK Ambassador Browne, to brief them on ongoing production problems in ACG offshore oil mega-field. On October 1, BP President Bill Schrader met with Deputy Secretary Negroponte, DAS Bryza and Ambassador Derse at Sangachal Terminal, to brief them on BP’s Azerbaijan operations. On October 2, Ambassador Derse hosted a lunch in honor of the Deputy Secretary, at which BP Azerbaijan President Schrader and other high-level BP Azerbaijan executives briefed Secretary Negroponte, DAS Bryza and Ambassador Derse on regional gas development issues.
3. (C) Schrader said that given BP’s ongoing oil production problems at the Central Azeri platform (refs A-C), BP would not technically be able to re-inject gas into this field “well into the winter.” As such the GOAJ would have “plenty of gas” to sell to Georgia this winter should it wish (NOTE: according to the AIOC PSA, all ACG gas not used for operational reasons such as re-injection is to be given free to SOCAR). BP will provide to SOCAR as much of this ACG associated gas as technically possible, since the alternative would be either to flare it or to decrease oil production even further.
SD2 = 16 BCM/A
4. (C) Schrader said that currently Shah Deniz (SD) production was doing quite well, with four wells operating and a fifth due to start in January 2009. In a significant change, BP Azerbaijan has revised upwards its own internal production estimates for Shah Deniz Phase Two (SD2) gas from 13 to 16 bcm/a, although it has not yet communicated this revised estimate to SOCAR nor made this fact public, as the revised estimate had not yet been approved by BP (NOTE: BP Azerbaijan President Schrader asked that USG interlocutors keep this revised estimate to themselves and not share it with either SOCAR or the GOT). SD2 Production would likely start in 2015.
5. (C) Schrader said that post-Georgia crisis, SOCAR has clearly seen the benefits of its association with IOCs and as such has sought to “fast-track” discussions with the AIOC Consortium over developing the non-associated gas that lies underneath the ACG oil field (NOTE: referred to as “ACG Deep Gas,” this gas is not covered by the current PSA between the AIOC Consortium and the GOAJ. However, the Consortium has the right of first refusal and the right to match any offer for ACG Deep Gas development, and as a practical matter could prevent development of this field by any other IOC). This field could produce one to three bcm/a by 2013/2014, with a production plateau of six to ten bcm/a by 2015, which could continue for 30 years. SOCAR was seeking an MOU on
BAKU 00000947 002 OF 003
developing this field with the AIOC Consortium by the end of 2008. (COMMENT: Take together, this additional production projections for Shah Deniz and ACG Deep Gas could have significant positive impact in satisfying Turkey’s demand and in advancing the Southern Corridor in 2015-16).
6. Schrader characterized Turkish intransigence on SD2 gas transit as the major barrier to expeditious SD2 development. He said that should the GOT continue to refuse to provide transit for SD2 gas on terms that Azerbaijan finds commercially viable, then the GOAJ might well decide to keep SD2 undeveloped and “let Turkey freeze for a few winters.” In the interim, the GOAJ would proceed with developing ACG Deep Gas, whose product volumes would be low enough to satisfy the regional market of Russia, Georgia and Iran. (Note: in a separate conversation, Foreign Minister Mammadyarov reported to the Deputy Secretary that natural gas talks with Russa’s Gazprom had “failed,” because of differencesin opinion on formulas for “market pricing.” End Comment)
7. (C) Schrader said that negotiations with Botas for the post-April 1, 2008 price of SD1 gas are still at a dead-end, with Botas offering a price of USD 150 per 1,000 tcm at a time when a “realistic” price for this gas would be closer to USD 350/tcm. (Gazprom’s price for gas to Europe is close to USD 500/tcm.) As such, the Shah Deniz Consortium partners will in all likelihood vote on October 15 to take the matter to arbitration.
8. (C) Schrader said that the September 17th shutdown of the Central Azeri (CA) platform, in which the “red button” was pressed after detection of a gas leak on the Central Azeri Platform that led to the evacuation of 211 platform workers off the platform, was the largest such emergency evacuation in BP’s history. Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition. Gas bubbles on the water’s surface were no longer observed from the air by September 19th. Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was “a lot of mud” on the platform, which BP would analyze to help find the cause of the blowout and gas leak. Gas samples would have to be taken to London to determine whether the gas was shallow (biogenic) or deep (foundation). Central, Eastern and Western Azeri Azeri platforms remain shut down. 9. (C) Schrader said that Western Azeri Platform was shut down due to its only functioning generator being powered by a cable from the Central Azeri Platform, and BP hoped to be able to restart this platform in November. “Black-starting” a platform (i.e. restarting a platform when all of its operations had been fully shut down) was a very difficult, time-consuming process, and would have to be taken slowly, on a step-by-step basis. BP Azerbaijan would slowly start to get its people back out on the CA Platform later this week to begin re-starting selective systems that would help ascertain the problem’s source.
10. (C) It is possible that BP Azerbaijan “would never know” the cause of the gas leak, but BP is continuing to methodically investigate possible theories, Schrader said. Although the production decrease had not been a significant story heretofore, he thought it likely that more attention in the industry would be paid to it after October 2, when SOCAR nominated volumes to be sold at Ceyhan for the coming month. Schrader said although the story hadn’t caught the press’s attention, it had the full focus of the GOAJ, which was losing “40 to 50 million dollars” each day that the ACG production remained at 300,000 bpd vice its earlier daily production of approximately 900,000 bpd.
11. (C) BP Azerbaijan Gas Marketing Manager Richard Ruddiman said that both the TGI and TAP pipeline projects each needed approximately seven bcm/a of SD2 gas to get sanctioned. Nabucco, a ‘greenfield’ project with no current infrastructure and with its 30 bcm/a carrying capacity, would
BAKU 00000947 003 OF 003
need firm commitments of at least eight bcm/a and relatively firm commitments for a total of 18 bcm/a before construction could begin. Given supply constraints, both Schrader and Ruddiman said that Nabucco was “a good project, but ten years too early,” and that it was unlikely that it could get sanctioned within the next ten years. They said that a more “gradual and capillary” approach to delivering Caspian gas to Europe, similar to how the US gas infrastructure was developed, was a more realistic scenario for getting Caspian gas to Europe than mega-projects such as Nabucco. Ruddiman said that there was no hard “latest date,” by which these projects had to be developed; their sanctioning could continue to be postponed until/unless the main barrier of Turkish transit was solved. The key requirement for sanctioning any of these pipelines was long-term gas supply contracts that could be used to achieve construction financing.
12. (C) Schrader said the Western Route oil pipeline through Georgia to the Black Sea (Baku-Supsa) was ready to resume operations and would be doing so within a week or so. (NOTE: It had restarted operations a few days before Russia’s August incursions into Georgia, after which BP shut it down for operational security reasons).
13. (C) Schrader and Ruddiman said that developing gas-intensive petrochemical industries in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan probably doesn’t make sense, even given its large amounts of gas available for feedstock, as the distance to significant markets would put Turkmenistan at a competitive disadvantage. Ruddiman pointed to the example of Sumgayit in Azerbaijan as an example of a petrochemical center disadvantaged by its relative distance from key regional markets.
14. (C) COMMENT: The silver lining to ACG’s ongoing oil production problems is that it seems to have solved Georgia’s winter gas woes, given the massive amounts of ACG gas that will not be needed in the foreseeable future for reinjection. Less adulterated good news is that SD2 volumes will be closer to 16 bcm/a, and another one bcm/a may be available from SD1. When SD2 production was expected to be 13 bcm/a, SOCAR saw approximately three bcm/a going to Georgia and Azerbaijan and seven needed to sanction a pipeline to Europe, leaving four bcm/a for Turkey. Given SOCAR’s previous offer to Turkey of surplus (i.e. above 13 bcm/a) SD2 production, these new numbers mean that SOCAR could potentially offer Turkey seven bcm/a This is an amount very close to the eight bcm/a, on which Turkey is insisting as the price of transit. Equally good news is the GOAJ’s newfound desire to expedite ACG Deep Gas development, although Embassy has heard from SOCAR that this field’s development also depends on the GOT allowing transit of Caspian gas to European markets. END COMMENT.
15. (U) DepSec staff, DAS Bryza, have cleared this cable. DERSE

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