October 7, 2010 / 3:51 PM / in 8 years

Azeris say Total puts off Caspian drilling to 2011

BAKU, Oct 7 (Reuters) - France’s Total (TOTF.PA) has postponed exploration drilling in the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan until early next year due to delays in delivery of a rig, a vice-president of Azeri state energy firm SOCAR said on Thursday.

SOCAR and Total signed a deal on exploration of the Apsheron gas field, with estimated reserves of 300 billion cubic metres, in February 2009. GDF Suez GSZ.PA joined the project later.

“Delivery of a drilling rig, which belongs to Maersk (MAERSKb.CO) and is due to be used for exploration at Apsheron, from the Kazakh sector of the Caspian Sea is delayed. That’s why the beginning of exploration is delayed,” Khoshbat Usifzade told Reuters.

The start of exploration was planned for September-October this year.

Usifzade said the drilling rig was expected to be delivered to Azerbaijan in December 2010.

Chevron (CVX.N), Total and SOCAR started exploration at Apsheron gas field at the end of 1990s, but pulled out of project as did not discover enough volumes of gas. (Reporting by Lada Yevgrashina; writing by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; editing by William Hardy)

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