March 02, 2010

China Bid for Azerbaijan Oil

Late last week the head of investment at the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) Vagif Aliyev revealed that Devon Energy of Oklahoma was to sell its 5.6% stake in the big Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli offshore oilfield. The Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field is controlled by a consortium of oil majors led by British Petroleum. Vagif Aliyev said negotiations were underway between Devon and Chinese oil companies - CNCP, CNOOC, and Sinopec have all been named as interested parties - and the other consortium members. If the consortium agrees not to buy Devon's share they could be joined by the Chinese.

The field lies offshore in the Caspian Sea in waters claimed as national by Azerbaijan. It is estimated to have 5.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil. Oil production is exported by the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline for delivery onto tankers plying the Mediterranean Sea. Over the weekend SOCAR said that Kazakhstan had stopped exporting oil through the BTC pipeline.

China was quick to recognize Azerbaijan as an independent nation in 1992. Chinese companies have been at work onshore since at least 2004. Devon Energy may be a takeover target according to some analysts. Rumours are Devon wants to focus on developing its domestic assets....

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