Azeri first-half oil output drop slows as BP stems ACG decline

BAKU. July 19. KAZINFORM Azerbaijan's oil production decline slowed in the first half of the year after BP Plc (BP) halted an output slump at the country's largest deposit.

The Caspian Sea nation pumped 21.8 million metric tons of crude during the period, down 1.8 percent from a year earlier, according to data published yesterday on the website of the State Statistics Committee, based in the capital, Baku. That compares with a 7.1 percent drop a year earlier.

Marketable natural gas output rose during the period to 8.9 billion cubic meters from 8.8 billion cubic meters a year earlier, the committee said.

Production at the BP-led Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field stabilized at an average 666,000 barrels a day in January through June, BP regional manager Gordon Birrell said last month. The offshore deposit, known as ACG, saw production drop 12 percent in the first half of last year, drawing criticism of BP from Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, Kazinform refers to Bloomberg.

ACG cut production 7 percent last year to 32.9 million tons, or 77 percent of the country's total output. Partners in the project include State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan, known as Socar, Statoil ASA (STL), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Chevron Corp. (CVX).

Output in Azerbaijan, the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia and Kazakhstan, peaked at 51 million tons in 2010. The country pumped 43 million tons last year and 46 million tons in 2011.

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