Caspian operator ambitions
Unallocated Caspian exploration acreage off Azerbaijan is being assessed by Statoil with a view to securing an operatorship.
"This sea is one of the world's last remaining areas with substantial oil resources and relatively low exploration risk," comments Tor-Ivar Pedersen, Statoil's Azerbaijan manager.
"Estimates put undiscovered resources in these waters at 20 billion barrels."
He adds that the Azeri authorities are positive to discussing the terms of a new production sharing agreement with Statoil as operator.
Such talks could begin as early as the second half of the present year, and a deal may be finalised by the fourth quarter.
Statoil is the largest non-operator involved off Azerbaijan, and Mr Pedersen says that securing an operatorship would give the group the necessary basis for developing a local organisation with broad technical and commercial expertise.
This would also give it scope to achieve more direct influence over the local oil and gas industry.
According to Mr Pedersen, the group's ambitions to become an operator enjoy the full support of the authorities in Norway and of Norwegian industrial companies who export goods and services to Azerbaijan.