25th anniversary of First Oil from Chirag

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Today we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the first production from the Chirag platform. 25 years ago, on 7 November 1997, first oil from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field was produced from Chirag, marking the beginning of the implementation of Azerbaijan’s independent oil strategy.

Bakhtiyar Aslanbayli, Vice President for External Affairs and Communications in the Caspian region of bp, the ACG operator, writes about this in an article that he shared on his LinkedIn page.

Aslanbenli notes in his article:

It also signified the start of production under the country’s first ever Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) for the joint development of the ACG fields in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea. According to the decree signed by the late President and National Leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev on 27 October 1997, this strategically important milestone was officially celebrated nationwide on 12 November 1997 as a success that symbolized Azerbaijan’s bright future.

Since then, Chirag has made quite a history. When I first joined bp in 2002, the Chirag platform, in fact, was the only source of production and export from the ACG field. This was the case until 2005, when the larger and more modern ACG platforms came online.

Now, a quarter-century later, joined by five modern, high-tech production platforms, the historic Chirag continues to play a big role in the safe, efficient and reliable production delivery of ACG. To date, the Chirag platform has produced a total of about 766 million barrels (103 million tonnes) of oil, which makes about a fifth of ACG’s total production.

The commencement of production from Chirag turned ACG into the “hero” of the Caspian. Since then, this giant field has been tirelessly providing Azerbaijan and countries of the region with energy in a safe, efficient and reliable manner.  We are confident that ACG will continue to fulfill this important and honorable mission for the years to come.

To understand how successful ACG has been, it is enough to look at the numbers – they speak for themselves:

  • about 4.2 billion barrels of oil produced,
  • 53 billion cubic meters of associated gas delivered to Azerbaijan,
  • 3.9 billion barrels of oil transported via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, more than 5,000 tankers sent to world markets,
  • Capital investment of $42 billion made together with the partners,
  • Total revenue of $163 billion received by the state, according to the latest report by the SOFAZ.

On this significant date, I would also like to highlight the successes of another bp-operated project in the Caspian – Shah Deniz. ACG and Shah Deniz opened a new page in the country’s history and laid a solid foundation for the economic revival of independent Azerbaijan.  As the operator of these giant projects, we are proud of these and other great achievements to date.

Chirag Patform, Caspian Sea, Photo: Stuart Conway/ BP

I believe there are two key factors behind the exceptional success of both ACG and Shah Deniz.

First, the cooperation and strategic partnership demonstrated by multiple parties that have enabled the successful implementation of these world-class projects.  These successes would hardly have been possible without the confidence and unwavering support from all parties, especially the Government of Azerbaijan.

This year, bp also celebrates the 30th anniversary of its presence in this country.  Over the years, we have become Azerbaijan’s long-term and reliable energy partner, having established one of the most successful partnerships in the energy industry together with the government, SOCAR and other partners.

We believe that thanks to this exemplary cooperation, all the projects we are operating in the Caspian will continue to bring benefits to Azerbaijan.

The second and most important factor is our oil workers, who spare no effort in implementing these projects.  Although both ACG and Shah Deniz are truly international projects involving thousands of people from around the world, most of the work has been done by local resources. 

We are particularly proud that since mid-2018, a total of 90 percent of bp’s professional employees are Azerbaijani nationals.  Many of them currently work in managerial positions in bp’s global offices.

Azerbaijan has historically trained prominent oil professionals, and a new generation of national specialists working in our projects successfully build on the experience of those years. For example, all 60 bp employees currently working on the 25-year-old Chirag are world-class national specialists, and both rotating managers of the platform are Azerbaijani nationals.

It is no coincidence that bp employees have been among the oil workers recognized by the President of Azerbaijan with high state awards.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr President on behalf of our company for giving high value to our activities.

Thanks to best-in-class cooperation and partnership among all parties and courage, dedication and determination of oil workers Azerbaijan has become one of the important energy suppliers in the world.  And would remain so for years to come.


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