ACE platform on ACG field; Source: BP

First oil gushes out of BP’s giant new offshore platform in Azerbaijan

UK-headquartered energy giant BP has started oil production from its new 48-slot production, drilling, and quarters platform in the Caspian Sea off the coast of Azerbaijan.

ACE platform on ACG field; Source: BP

This platform, which is called Azeri Central East (ACE), recently joined the oil major’s existing facilities in the Caspian Sea as part of the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli (ACG) field development project. The latest platform addition to the enormous field is located mid-way between the Central Azeri and East Azeri platforms in a water depth of 137 meters. BP spudded the first well from the ACE platform last year, inching closer to the first oil from the project.

The UK energy giant confirmed the first oil from the seventh offshore platform installed on the giant ACG field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea on April 16. As part of BP’s strategy to invest in both the energy system of today and the one of the future, the ACE platform is said to be the most technologically and digitally advanced offshore platform in the oil major’s portfolio and the first one controlled from onshore.

Ewan Drummond, BP’s Senior Vice President of Projects, commented: “I’m incredibly proud of the team at BP for safely delivering the first BP-operated offshore platform fully controlled from onshore. This establishes a new benchmark for innovative engineering and competitive project delivery for our company and the wider industry.”  

While the initial production from ACE comes from the first well that was drilled at the end of 2023, it is expected to be ramped up during the year to reach around 24,000 bpd, once two more planned wells are drilled, completed, and brought online. The ACE platform and related facilities are designed to process up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

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Furthermore, the ACE project, which was sanctioned in April 2019, is anticipated to produce up to 300 million barrels over its lifetime, with oil passing through the processing facilities on the platform and then being exported around 130 kilometers to the onshore Sangachal terminal via a new in-field pipeline linked to an existing 30-inch subsea export line.

According to BP, the start-up of the $6 billion ACE project delivers on the first major investment decision made by the ACG partnership since the signing of the extended ACG production sharing agreement (PSA) in 2017, which will be effective until the end of 2049, aiming to maximize the economic benefits for Azerbaijan and shareholders. The new platform will contribute to the increase of output from the field, which has delivered 4.3 billion barrels of oil since its start-up in November 1997.

Gary Jones, BP’s Regional President for Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkiye, highlighted: “This successful start-up is testament to the ongoing close collaboration between BP, SOCAR and the government of Azerbaijan, together with the support of our partners. First oil from ACE – in the year of the thirtieth anniversary of the agreement to develop ACG – marks the beginning of this world-class field’s next development phase.”

“This is the ninth world-class production platform that we have built, installed, and are operating offshore Azerbaijan. ACE really stands out with its engineering creativity, advanced digital technology, and automation. We are proud to have delivered what we believe is the ‘platform of the future’.”

The ACG partners are BP (operator, 30.37%), SOCAR (25.0%), MOL (9.57%), Inpex (9.31%), Equinor (7.27%), ExxonMobil (6.79%), TPAO (5.73%), ITOCHU (3.65%), and ONGCVidesh (2.31%). The BP-operated Shah Deniz gas field has two further platforms, thus, the company operates nine platforms in the Caspian Sea.

BP makes changes to its organizational structure

The UK energy giant has decided to simplify its organizational structure to support the delivery of the priorities disclosed in February 2024. As a result, the firm will continue to have three businesses, encompassing Production & Operations, Gas & Low Carbon Energy, and Customers & Products, enabled by Trading & Shipping.

However, the current regions, corporates & solutions organization segment will be integrated into the businesses and functions, thus, BP will now be supported by five functions, entailing finance; technology; strategy, sustainability & ventures; people & culture; and legal.

The changes are expected to reduce duplication and reporting line complexity. In line with this, the firm’s executive leadership team will be downsized to ten members but the firm’s financial reporting structure will remain unchanged.

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Murray Auchincloss, BP’s Chief Executive Officer, remarked: “As I set out in February, BP’s destination from IOC to IEC is unchanged – and we need to deliver as a simpler, more focused and higher value company. These changes will help us do just that, reducing complexity within BP, allowing our team to focus on delivering our priorities and growing the value of BP.”