* Existing deal was meant to expire in 2024
* Production to date exceeds 3 billion barrels of oil
* Azerbaijan has criticised BP for output decline
* BP splashes out on deals in recent weeks
(Updates with details, context)
Dec 23 Oil major BP has agreed with
Azerbaijan to extend a contract to develop the country's biggest
fields by a quarter of a century to 2050 in a move to unlock
billions of dollars of fresh investments in the Caspian Sea
The existing production sharing deal was due to expire in
2024 and talks to extend it have been slow because of
disagreements between partners in the BP-led consortium, sources
told Reuters earlier this year.
The extension of the Azeri contracts adds to the flurry of
deals BP signed in recent weeks, including buying stakes in gas
exploration areas off the coast of Mauritania and Senegal, and
renewing an onshore oil concession in Abu Dhabi.
BP said the consortium and Azeri state oil firm SOCAR on
Friday signed a letter of intent to continue developing
the giant Azeri-Chirag-Guneshly (ACG) offshore fields until
It said it had agreed the key commercial terms for the
future development while the deal was due to be finalised in the
next few months.
The shareholders in the consortium include BP, Chevron
, INPEX, Statoil, ExxonMobil, TPAO,
ITOCHU and ONGC Videsh.
"ACG is known as the 'Contract of the Century'. It is very
important to Azerbaijan ... We can now look ahead to many more
years of ACG's success," the statement quoted SOCAR's president
Rovnag Abdullayev as saying.
The existing deal was signed in 1994 and became the first
successful agreement between a former Soviet Union republic and
oil majors to develop energy resources. BP said the new deal
will bring many thousands of jobs in the years ahead.
BP came under fire from Azeri President Ilham Aliyev earlier
this decade when the country's leader criticised the oil firm
for lower than promised output levels.
With current output of 620,000 barrels per day, the fields
have produced a total of over 3 billion barrels of oil since the
start of the project, with around $33 billion of investment.
Their remaining reserves are estimated to contain several more
billions of barrels of oil.
(Reporting by Dmitry Zhdannikov, editing by David Evans)