The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan is looking to become an international energy producer. And in its first move beyond the Caspian Basin, SOCAR is turning to Israel.
Under a deal signed without fanfare last autumn, a SOCAR subsidiary, the Caspian Drilling Company (CDC), gained a 5-percent stake in Med Ashdod, Israel’s only economically viable oil field, located 16 kilometers off the Mediterranean coast. SOCAR will also be a major drilling contractor at the offshore field.
The project is SOCAR’s first oil-production or drilling operation outside of Azerbaijan. News of the agreement had largely escaped international notice until Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s April 23-24 visit to Baku. CDC will be working with Israel’s Shemen Oil & Gas Resources consortium (known by its unfortunate acronym SMOG).
“The drilling will begin soon. The work is at a very advanced stage and delivery of a drilling rig to the field is now expected,” Israeli Ambassador to Baku Michael Lotem told the Russian-language, Israel-based IzRus news portal on April 23.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku.