British oil company BP and its partner State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) have commenced drilling of the Shafag-Asiman block offshore Caspian Sea in the Azerbaijan sector.

Located about 125km to the South-East of Baku, the block covers an area of some 1,100km² and is located in water depths of 650-800m.

BP, which is the operator during the exploration phase of the project, owns 50% stake in Shafag-Asiman production sharing agreement (PSA) while SOCAR owns the remaining stake.

The exploration drilling on the Shafag-Asiman block has started with the spudding of the SAX01 well.

The SAX01 well is said to be the first to be drilled in the contract area, where 3D seismic acquisition programme was carried out in 2012.

Shafag-Asiman exploration well being drilled using SOCAR’s rig

The exploration well is planned to be drilled to a total depth of up to 7000m using the Heydar Aliyev semi-submersible rig, which is operated by SOCAR’s Caspian Drilling Company (CDC). Drilling activity is scheduled to be take around nine months to complete.

SOCAR president Rovnag Abdullayev said: “The exploration drilling will allow to fully uncover the block’s potential.

“We are proud that today Azerbaijani companies -SOCAR’s business units provide all key services, including the construction of platforms and jackets as well as drilling, for such complex projects, as Shah Deniz, Azeri-Chirag- Gunashli and Shafag-Asiman.

“We consider this as one of the most important achievements of Azerbaijani oil workers during the era of national independence.”

Upon completion of the drilling, well data will be assessed, and if successful, the partners plan to undertake an evaluation programme to confirm the results.

BP Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey regional president Gary Jones said: “We are excited and proud to be embarking on this first exploration well on the Shafag-Asiman offshore block structure which has great potential and which, if successful, could be a gas discovery of significant scale.

“A great deal of preparation has been made to assure a safe and robust drilling programme, delivered by an expert and motivated team using a drilling rig with managed pressure drilling capability.”