June 14 (UPI) -- The state oil company in Azerbaijan has proven its mettle when it comes to navigating through weak market conditions, the head of the company said Thursday.
The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic said audited financial statements from last year show gross profits increased 78 percent to $54.4 billion.
His comments were in line with sentiments expressed by the International Monetary Fund, which found the Azeri economy was stable last year on the back of higher oil prices, which collapsed below $30 per barrel in early 2016.
Inflation, nevertheless, is high and growth expectations are low. IMF economists said Azeri policymakers responded appropriately to oil price shocks, but shouldn't expect a return to $100 barrel oil anytime soon.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, was around $76 per barrel early Thursday.
Azerbaijan is rich in oil and natural gas and party to an effort led by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to stabilize a market hobbled by the 2016 collapse in oil prices.
In March, subsidiary of British energy company BP awarded field services company Subsea 7 with a contract for work at the Azer-Chirag-Gunashli oil field and the Shah Deniz natural gas field in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea.
Since the initial production sharing contract was signed in 1994, the oil field has produced more than 3 billion barrels of oil and delivered more than $125 billion in net profits to Azerbaijan. One of the longest pipelines in the world runs from Azerbaijan to a Turkish sea port on the Mediterranean Sea.
More than 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year is slated for exports from Shah Deniz to the European market through the broader network of 2,100 miles of pipelines in the Southern Corridor within the next few years.
Suleyman Gasimo, SOCAR's vice president for economic affairs, said the company has a legacy of attracting financial resources on favorable terms.
"At present SOCAR's assets exceed the company's financial liabilities and this positive difference is nearly $12 billion," he said.
OPEC ministers meet next week to review their market stabilization efforts.