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First Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula exploration well spudded offshore Azerbaijan

Release date:
18 August 2021

SOCAR and bp announced today that the first exploration well was spudded in the North Khali prospective area of the Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula (SWAP) offshore block in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea on 16 August. This follows the safe sail-away on 9 August of the Satti jack-up rig which is drilling the well. 

This is the first well to be drilled in the contract area. The well is planned to reach total depth of up to 2,424 metres, which is expected to take around two and a half months. The well data then will be analysed and, if successful, an evaluation programme may be conducted to confirm the results.  

bp is operator and holds a 50% interest in the SWAP production sharing agreement (PSA) with partner SOCAR holding a 50% interest.

Rovnag Abdullayev, president of SOCAR, said: “It is gratifying that after the modernization of the KazMunayGas’ Satti jack-up floating drilling rig by SOCAR's CDC, the first drilling works have started in the Shallow Water Absheron Peninsula. This demonstrates the recent development of cooperation between companies of the countries of the Caspian region. I am confident that SOCAR, bp Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas will continue to cooperate successfully on projects in the Caspian Sea.”

Gary Jones, bp’s regional president for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, said: “We are excited to commence the drilling operations in the SWAP area. A great deal of preparation has been made to assure a safe and robust drilling programme using our experience and advanced technology solutions from other shallow water areas around the world. We look forward to working closely with SOCAR to deliver safely and efficiently this first exploration well ever drilled in the SWAP area.” 

The Satti jack-up rig is operated by the Caspian Drilling Company (CDC). The rig was contracted for the SWAP project in June 2021.   

Notes to Editors


  • The SWAP PSA between bp and SOCAR for joint exploration and development of the SWAP offshore block in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea was signed in Baku in December 2014.
  • The PSA was ratified by the Milli Majlis (Parliament) of Azerbaijan in 2015.
  • The contract area stretches along the margins of the Caspian basin to the south of the Absheron peninsula. The acreage features water depths of up to 40 metres with potential reservoir depths of 2,000-5,000 metres.
  • A 3D seismic acquisition programme was conducted in the contract area in 2016.
  • Following completion of the processing and interpretation of the 3D data acquired from the contract area, a Notice of Prospectivity was submitted to SOCAR in 2017 in respect of three prospective areas – North Khali, Bibi-Heybat East and Garabatdag. bp plans to drill one exploration well in each of the prospective areas.
  • The Environmental and Socio-economic Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the first SWAP well was disclosed in August 2020 and following public discussions was approved by the government in January 2021, providing permission to commence drilling activities in 2021.
  • The draft ESIA document for the second SWAP well was disclosed in July 2021 and is currently undergoing public discussions, which will end on 30 August 2021.


Further information:


Tamam Bayatly at bp’s Press Office in Baku.
Telephone: (+994 12) 525 58 95


Ibrahim Ahmadov, SOCAR’s Public Relations and Events Management Office
Telephone: (+99412) 521 03 69