The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), on Thursday, approved state-run ONGC Videsh’s (OVL’s) acquisition of U.S. energy major Hess Corp’s 2.7213 per cent stake in the Azeri, Chirag and the deep water portion of Guneshli (ACG) fields in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea and 2.36 per cent interest in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline in Azerbaijan for $1.001 billion.

The CCEA, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, authorised OVL to incur expenses so as to keep the total exposure up to the approved amount of $1.001 billion at all times, an official statement issued here said. OVL would get about one million tonnes per annum of oil for about a decade. “In addition to oil revenue, the investment would enable OVL to enter Azerbaijan, which is rapidly emerging into a strategically important country in the CIS region,’’ the statement said.

Acquiring a stake in the strategic BTC pipeline would provide OVL the opportunity to enhance its portfolio around the region and transport crude from future assets, which the company may acquire in the Caspian Sea in future. ACG, which is located in the south Caspian Sea, about 95 km off the coast of Azerbaijan, is the largest oil and gas field complex in Azerbaijan and one of the largest producing oil fields in the world. The U.K.’s BP-operated field produces around 700,000 barrels a day (35 million tonnes per annum) of crude oil. This is more than India’s annual oil production. OVL’s share of output would be over 19,000 bpd or a little less than one million tonnes per annum.

While the ACG field has total reserves of over 6.5 billion barrels, the 1,768-km BTC pipeline is one of the main export routes for Caspian crude oil production to the Ceyhan terminal in the Mediterranean Sea in south east Turkey, with a capacity of around one million bpd. BP is the operator of the ACG fields with 34.1 per cent stake. Other partners include Chevron (10.2 per cent), State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR 10 per cent), Inpex (10 per cent), Norway’s Statoil (8.6 per cent), ExxonMobil (8 per cent), Turkish national oil company TPAO (6.8 per cent), Chevron (5.6 per cent) and Japanese Itochu (3.9 per cent).


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