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Saturday, July 21, 2007

BP plans ACG work in September

18 July 2007 - Upstream OnLine - UK supermajor BP plans to carry out construction work at its Central Azeri platform on the Caspian Sea Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in September, reducing oil production from the facility, it said today. The 250,000-barrel-per-day platform, pumps oil into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline leading to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. "In September, there's some fairly major construction going on at Central Azeri," said Toby Odone, a BP spokesman. "There will be an impact on production, but I'm not aware of any significant impact on export flows." The work is part of the BP-led consortium's plan to raise output from the fields to 1 million bpd and some maintenance will take place while the construction is carried out. BP did not say how long the work would last. A trader of Azeri crude told Reuters the platform would probably be down for about 15 days and the impact on exports will become clearer when the September loading schedule is released in early August. Supplies of Azeri Light crude through the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline are expected to average about 730,000 bpd in August, little changed from July, an industry source said.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hedge fund settles Azeri charges

06 July 2007 Upstream OnLine - The US government said today it had agreed not to prosecute Omega Advisors, a $6 billion hedge fund, over its role in an alleged scheme to bribe Azeri officials and gain control of the country's state oil company. Omega will not be prosecuted for any crimes related to its investment in a privatisation programme in Azerbaijan, the US Attorney's office in Manhattan said in a statement, Reuters reported. Omega will forfeit $500,000 and will continue to co-operate with the probe. The agreement ends uncertainty over the case for Omega, which was founded by Leon Cooperman, a former general partner of Goldman Sachs. It also comes after recent setbacks for prosecutors in the case, which includes allegations that Czech investor Viktor Kozeny sent "planeloads of cash" into Azerbaijan in the late 1990s to buy a controlling interest in the former Soviet republic's state oil company, Socar. Omega invested more than $100 million in the privatisation programme in 1998 through a co-investment agreement with two companies controlled by Kozeny, prosecutors said. Clayton Lewis, a former Omega employee who was the hedge fund's point of contact on the Azeri investment, has admitted he knew about Kozeny's alleged arrangements before he invested on Omega's behalf, prosecutors said. Lewis pleaded guilty in February 2004 to charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to violate the act, prosecutors said. Omega lost all of its investment and Socar has not yet been privatised, prosecutors said. Omega substantially wrote down its investment in 1998. It has sued Kozeny and Lewis. "I am happy that the government has understood that Omega has acted appropriately since it learned of Mr. Lewis' improper conduct," said Omega's lawyer, Robert Anello. In a letter to investors, Cooperman said he was pleased "the saga relating to Omega's 1998 investment in the privatisation programme in Azerbaijan has come to an end." In June, a federal judge threw out most of the charges against two defendants in the case - David Pinkerton and Frederic Bourke - saying the indictment was filed too late. Pinkerton was managing director of AIG Global Investment, a subsidiary of American International Group, while Bourke was the principal shareholder in Blueport International, which allegedly invested in a company involved in the scheme, according to the ruling last month. The two still face charges of making false statements. The judge has set a conference for 17 July. Kozeny was released on bail in April from a Bahamas prison where he was sent in 2005 to await extradition to the US.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Azeris 'offer gas to Gazprom'

03 July 2007 - Upstream OnLine - Azerbaijan has reportedly offered to deliver natural gas to Russia's Gazprom monopoly via the Gazi-Mozdok pipeline in the southern Dagestan region. "We have offered to sell Gazprom 1 million to 1.5 million cubic metres of gas per day at $230 per 1000 cubic metres to supply Dagestan," a source at Azeri state oil and gas company Socar told Reuters today.. Azerbaijan's Economy Ministry confirmed the country could supply gas to Russia. "We are ready to sell gas to Russia and are expecting the answer on whether they would be interested in near future," Economy Minister Haydar Babayev said. Gazprom denied receiving an offer. "We have not received any official offers on that," said a spokesman. Azerbaijan produces up to 27 million cubic metres of gas per day and hopes to boost output by 10-15 million cubic metres per day as it develops the Caspian Sea Shah-Deniz field, launched last year. Azerbaijan, which bought about 4.5 billion cubic metres of gas from Gazprom in 2006, stopped buying Russian gas this year after the company more than doubled the price to $235 per 1000 cubic metres.

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