May 30 (UPI) -- A series of agreements to work alongside the state oil company in Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea marks a new era of cooperation, Norway's Equinor said Wednesday.
Equinor, formerly Statoil, signed agreements with State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic on production and development of a series of fields in the Caspian Sea. Of note is the Karabagh field, which is close to the lucrative Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli complex, among the biggest in the world.
"The agreements signed today represent a natural next step in the region," Equinor President and CEO Eldar Sætre said in a statement. "This will strengthen our position in a prolific basin and develop growth options."
Since the initial production sharing contract was signed in 1994, the ACG has produced more than 3 billion barrels of oil and delivered more than $125 billion in net profits to Azerbaijan. Equinor is a minority partner in the field led by British supermajor BP.
More than 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, meanwhile, is slated for exports from Shah Deniz offshore Azerbaijan to the European market through the broader network of 2,100 miles of pipelines in the Southern Corridor within the next few years.
"These agreements will take on significance, contributing to the stability of oil production and satisfying the growing demand for natural gas in Azerbaijan, while providing raw materials for the processing industry," SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev said.
Equinor's Azeri subsidiary will form a 50-50 joint operating company with SOCAR to develop the fields. The Norwegian company said a final investment decision will be made after appraisal and engineering work is completed in the Caspian Sea.
Production from countries outside of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is on pace to add another 1.72 million barrels of oil per day to the market this year, though Azeri production is on the decline. OPEC economists said Azeri crude oil production in March declined slightly to 720,000 barrels per day.
A final investment decision on field developments will be taken following appraisal and engineering work.