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    BP shuts down Shah Deniz platform


Shah Deniz 1 typically pumps gas to Georgia and Turkey, but will have only a single production platform until the end of this month.

by: Callum Cyrus

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BP shuts down Shah Deniz platform

The Alpha platform at BP's Shah Deniz 1 gas project, in Azerbaijan's share of the Caspian Sea, has been shut down for a planned 14-day maintenance programme, BP Azerbaijan confirmed to NGW on August 16.

Alpha was taken offline on August 14 and is expected to have its output restored August 28. BP still has the second Shah Deniz 1 platform – Bravo – in operation, and the Shah Deniz 2 systems, which deliver gas to south Europe, continue to run as normal.

The Shah Deniz field pumps gas to Georgia, Turkey and south Europe, but Shah Deniz 1 only caters for customers in Georgia and Turkey, with supplies coming to around 9bn m3/year. Meanwhile, of the 16bn m3/yr produced at Shah Deniz 2, 6bn m3/yr goes to Turkey and 10bn m3/year to Greece and Italy. Bulgaria will soon start receiving Shah Deniz supplies as well once a new pipeline is commissioned. BP Azerbaijan said last month that average production from Shah Deniz 1 and 2 amounted to 70mn m3/day, equating to above 25bn m3/yr.

With European spot gas prices soaring above $2,500/'000 m3 on August 15, increased SGC deliveries from Azerbaijan are among the key options for Europe to lock down alternative energy sources. Gazprom dispatched 70% less gas to European markets yr/yr in July, amid continued dissent with key customers, disruption at its Nord Stream 1 pipeline and political fallout from Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

At the launch of the SGC project, it was expected to provide around 10-20% of European gas demand. Under a draft MoU inked by Baku and Brussels recently, the two sides pledged to double the corridor’s capacity to send gas to Europe to 20bn m3/yr, but the expansion will depend on how much more gas can be extracted from Shah Deniz and other Azeri fields.

Shah Deniz 1 is expected to enter natural decline by 2024, and it could fall to 4.1-4.2bn m3/yr by 2030, and could cease altogether five years later, according to the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Alpha's planned turnaround was confirmed by BP in its recent annual work programme. BP says it is a "routine planned programme", and as such entirely within the scope of normal operations.

The maintenance remit includes checking and reinforcing critical equipment at Sangachal, and replacing its flare cables and gas analysers.

While Sangachal is being inspected, BP will also look to fulfil "various repair works" around Alpha, including gas analyser tie-ins and complex valve replacements.

BP's other Azerbaijan upstream assets will remain unaffected, sparing disruption to its shallow-water oilfield Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli, and crude exports via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. The UK major concluded: "These planned events deliver routine inspection, maintenance and project delivery activities. They are a necessary part of the long-term reliability, integrity and production performance, driven by repair and facility modification work that can only be performed during a plant outage."