After last week’s squabble with British Petroleum, Azerbaijan has requested the oil giant, its largest foreign investor, to quit procrastinating and make more holes in the Caspian Sea shelf to fill up the country's glass of oil.
Baku’s earlier tantrum over an insufficient supply of its favorite energy drink sparked questions about the future of BP’s leading role in Azerbaijani oil production. The country’s Energy Minister Natiq Aliyev now has suggested a way forward, saying that the oil is there, in the Caspian's immense Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli hydrocarbon bathtub, with an estimated recoverable petroleum reserve of 6 billion barrels. British Petroleum just needs to get its act together and drill more wells.
Azerbaijan's oil production levels are expected to peak soon -- both Baku and BP predict by 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration's country report -- and President Ilham Aliyev's irritation with BP for failing to meet its promised output levels shows he knows it. “The unexpected drop can only be a result of gross mistakes by BP,” he asserted on October 11 in an unusual public slap in the face for the energy company.
He added that Azerbaijan and BP have had a good working relationship for many years, and that Baku saw the energy titan through some tough times. But enough is enough. For several years, BP has kept making annual output promises and kept failing to deliver on them; the latest alleged miscalculation cost state coffers $8.1 billion, Aliyev complained.
In response, BP only mumbled something about being committed to Azerbaijan. A spokesperson told APA news agency that the corporation is between an incoming and outgoing vice-president for Azerbaijani operations.