Equinor sees Azerbaijan as a world-class source of oil and gas, Al Cook, executive vice president for Exploration & Production International at Equinor said in an exclusive interview with Trend.
“I am in Azerbaijan this week to focus on the future. We’ve had fantastic 30 years of development around the two great fields in Azerbaijan: Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) and Shah Deniz. When we look at the future of Azerbaijan, we see it as a world-class source of oil and gas, a world-class petroleum basin, as we say in this industry. We want to play a role with Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, our partner, with the state of Azerbaijan in order to develop those resources in a way that creates value,” he said.
Cook noted that the developments of the future may be smaller than the huge fields of the past.
“We need to work together in a way which is agile, nimble, smart, and fast to develop those smaller fields to make sure those come through, those come into production and those continue to create revenue and wealth in this country, even as the large fields begin to decline. That’s what we will be focusing on at the moment,” he explained.
Equinor’s EVP went on to add that the company also believes in Azerbaijan as a world-class country for exploration.
“Equinor is one of the world’s great explorers. We remain proud of that. We’re drilling more than 30 exploration wells around the world this year. As we look at Azerbaijan, we see interesting potential in the Caspian Sea for further exploration . We’re proud to have made the first oil discovery in Azerbaijan in 20 years on the Karabagh field a couple of years ago. We now say ‘Right, we’ve made that discovery, we’ve discovered how these systems work. How could we apply that knowledge onto more exploration activity? How can we find more fields like that in the acreage that SOCAR, our great partner, and Equinor own together?’ So that’s a real focus as well. We’re working together to see how we can move forward on exploration and project development. We can build on what Azerbaijan, Equinor, our partnership with SOCAR have developed over the past years,” said Cook.
Talking about prospects for cooperation in the energy transition, he recalled a meeting with Azerbaijan’s minister of ecology Mukhtar Babayev in Glasgow on the occasion of COP26 climate summit back in November last year.
“That was a time when, I think, we really wrestled with this challenge of how do we meet the world’s demand for energy which is increasing over time and how do we tackle and get on top of the climate crisis that is emerging so fast. I do believe that Azerbaijan and Equinor display a very responsible way to developing oil and gas. We understand that the world will continue to need oil and gas for decades to come. But at the same time, we understand that we must produce that oil and gas with the lowest emissions possible. We’ve been working together with our partners here to look at ways in which we can improve the energy efficiency of the oil and gas operations. We can reduce the emissions of the oil and gas operations here so that we can drive down towards the net zero future that we all want to be part of,” said Equinor’s EVP.
Cook believes that any discussion over oil and gas needs to also consider a future beyond the oil and gas.
“We’re very proud in Equinor to be positioning ourselves at the forefront of that transition. We’re developing wind farms, solar, hydrogen around the world to look beyond oil and gas. So at the same time as we recognize that oil and gas has a really important role to play in providing energy to the world over the next few not just years, but decades, we also look forward even further that, towards the time when renewable energy will provide the energy that the world needs,” he said.
He noted that it has been an amazing journey of over 30 years that Equinor has been a partner in the transformation of Azerbaijan.
“It is so incredible to see the value that has been created out of the natural resources in this country. It is such a pride for Equinor to be a part of that storyline. We’re a shareholder in the great Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field in the Caspian Sea here in Azerbaijan and also in the pipeline that takes that oil to markets around the world. We’ve seen that develop well over the last few years. We’ve been proud to see how well the fields have performed and, in particular, how successful we’ve been in keeping our promises to each other. I think as we look back over 30 years, the reason we’ve been successful is that Azerbaijan has always been a country that has kept its promises to its investors and in turn, the investors have delivered on their promise to develop the incredible natural resources of Azerbaijan. It is a success story. Last December, 500 million tons of oil flowed through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline out into the markets. We did that just as the world needed that energy more than ever before, with demand for oil and gas rising so high,” Cook concluded.