Pre-drilling on the first of the three wells, which is to be done within the stage 1 programme for pre-drilling on the Shah Deniz, has been completed. This was disclosed to journalists by the vice-president of SOCAR in charge of geology, geophysics and development of deposits Khosbakht Yusifzadeh. According to him, the depth drilled was 6560 metres out of the project depth of 7244 meters. Mr Yusifzadeh said that some difficulties were encountered during the drilling because of seam pressure that was why a decision was taken to stop the drilling at the depth that they had reached. Drilling of the well was planned to pierce the productive horizons below the non-productive formations. In the event of complications owing to high pressure they planned to halt at the non-productive formations.

According to Mr Yusifzadeh, during the drilling work the non productive formation was drilled by 40-50 meters, which was not done during the exploratory drilling. Currently logging work was being done and results obtained so far are very encouraging.

He also said that during the drilling of the remaining two advance wells, the target would be to drill through the horizons lower than the non-productive formations.

In accordance to information from bp-Azerbaijan (operator of the project), currently the well is being finished and will take a week to be done. Drilling of the second well should start in the middle of December 2003. The first advance well was made in the north eastern wing of the deposit at a water depth of about 101 meters. Caspian Drilling Company carried out the drilling operations.

Drilling was done from the base template that was installed in March under the drilling rig Istiglal with the purpose of carrying out pre-drilling work on producing wells. By pre-drilling these wells before the installation of the TPG500 will help to speed up the date of obtaining the first volumes of gas and help to speed up production of gas and condensate soon after the platform goes into operation.

According to the timetable for the Stage 1, the start of construction of the platform has been set for the 2 quarter of 2003 and the first consignment of gas to Turkey should be made by the 3rd quarter of 2006.

Partners in the product sharing agreement for the development of the Shah Deniz include bp (25.5%), Statoil (25.5%), SOCAR (10%), LUKAgip(10%), NICO (10%), Total (10%), and TPAO (9%).

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