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Caspian news roundup

Russia and Kazakhstan have penned a deal to search for new hydrocarbon resources in the Caspian Sea area, while Iran's Khazar Oil Company and Brazil's Petrobras have reopened talks on the matter.

Russia and Kazakhstan sign deal over Caspian oil

Russia and Kazakhstan have signed an agreement to jointly search for new oil prospects in the Caspian Sea.

Under the terms of the deal, both countries will assume sovereign rights for exploration and exploitation of subsoil assets.

Exploration in the Caspian Sea has previously been curtailed by disputes over seabed boundaries that are yet to be divided between the five bordering countries - Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan.

Russian president Vladimir Putin said the new contract delivers the "delimitation of the northern part of the Caspian Sea", adding that it will allow companies from Russia and Kazakhstan to begin developing the Tsentralnaya hydrocarbon deposit.

"We have big plans for joint extraction of oil in the Caspian," he added.

Putin went on to reveal that the majority of the Kazakh oil would be exported through Russian territory, although no further information about the route was provided.

Iran and Petrobras to resume talks on Caspian oil exploration

Iran and Brazilian energy giant Petrobras have reopened talks over oil and gas exploration in the Caspian Sea.

Ali Osuli, managing director of National Iranian Oil Company subsidiary Khazar Oil Company, said both parties have agreed on the establishment of a joint commission on oil and gas.

The move was motivated by the success of Petrobras in previous deep-water oil and gas explorations.

Osuli explained that the launch of new exploration projects in North America had curtailed the project, but it has resumed following the removal of sanctions.

"A committee has been established to examine the possibilities of a bilateral partnership with Brazil in the oil and gas sector; I hope that the committee will provide the grounds for a technology transfer in deep-waters exploration," he was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying.

Iran hopes to find new gas reserves in Golestan

Iran's Caspian Oil Company (COC) is hopeful of discovering new gas reserves in the north Golestan area.

According to Shana news agency, Osuli - who is also chief executive of COC - said identifying new reserves would facilitate the delivery of gas in northern Iran.

Several exploration projects in the area - including the drilling of three wells around 20 years ago - have previously amounted to nothing.

Osuli revealed that a consortium comprising Shell, COC and a number of other companies had already carried out inspections in the southern Caspian, which led to the identification of 46 structures.

Gas reserves are also expected to be found close to the Iranian border with Turkmenistan, he added.

ACG oil production ahead of projected figures, says BP

Oil production at the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) oil and gas block in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea is higher than expected, BP has announced.

The company's regional president for Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey Gordon Birrell said production for 2015 is not expected to be lower than last year, and that current output figures are "ahead of the forecasted ones".

SOCAR, Azerbaijan's state oil company, had previously announced that around 380 million tons of oil have been produced at the ACG field since November 1997.

Over the same period, the volume of associated gas produced has reached 114 billion cubic metres. Daily output now stands at 87,000 tons of oil and 33 million cubic metres of gas.

Khoshbakht Yusifzade, SOCAR's first vice president, believes that total production at the ACG field will hit 385 million tons by the end of 2015, representing just 17 per cent of the block's reserves.

Trans-Caspian pipeline 'will help Turkmen diversification'

The Trans-Caspian gas pipeline represents Turkmenistan's best chance for diversification, according to US expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier.

Speaking to Trend, Pannier insisted the country's work on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline does not indicate that it has moved away from the Trans-Caspian project.

"Turkmenistan desperately needs to export gas somewhere else besides China," he explained.

"Russia only imported four billion cubic metres of Turkmen gas this year and I have not heard yet that Russia plans to buy any Turkmen gas in 2016."

As such, Pannier claimed the Trans-Caspian pipeline gives Turkmenistan the best opportunity to reach new customers and prevent it from becoming solely reliant on exports to China.

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