SOCAR, BP Agree to Stabilize Azeri Oilfields Output

British oil major BP and Azeri state energy company SOCAR agreed to cooperate in stabilising 2013 production at the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli (ACG) oilfields, the biggest in Azerbaijan and one of BP's largest global projects.

"We have agreed on a programme for 2013 and approved it as a stabilisation programme," Rovnag Abdullayev, the SOCAR president, told reporters after meeting with BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley.

"I'm sure we will manage to secure stable oil production at the Azeri, Chirag and Guneshli oilfields," he said.

Dudley visited Azerbaijan on Tuesday, two months after Azeri President Ilham Aliyev accused the British major of making "false promises".

Falling output at the fields has raised concerns in the ex-Soviet republic about its budget, given that revenues are linked to oil and gas exports.

The ACG oilfields were expected to produce over 1 million barrels per day (bpd) after a third phase was completed in 2008. Production reached 823,000 bpd in 2010 but has fallen since then. It averaged 684,000 bpd in the first half of 2012.

"A major work had been done at the Azeri, Chirag, Guneshli oilfields after the (Azeri) president's statement ... Technical groups started working, and we got a good cooperation between BP and SOCAR," Abdullayev said.

The head of SOCAR said in October it was working with BP on a plan to keep output roughly flat through the end of the decade and was not looking at a change of operator.

It has said it expects production of 33 million tons (around 678,000 bpd) this year and in 2013.

Azerbaijan said in October BP had promised to sack staff responsible for the output shortfall. BP later made managerial changes in its Azeri office, which it said were not related to President Ilham Aliyev's criticism.

Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Statoil also have stakes in the consortium.

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