Almost 20 years have passed since 1994, when Azerbaijan signed the first PSA-contract during a period of independence of the Caspian countries to develop the "Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli" field. During this period, a number of large hydrocarbon fields, including "Shah Deniz", "Umid", "Absheron", and one of the world's oil fields "Kashagan" were discovered in the Caspian Sea.
Few people doubt that this is only the beginning, and there are huge oil and gas reserves at the bottom of the Caspian Sea. This is stipulated by the fact that the interest of Western companies in the exploration and development of prospective structures in the Caspian Sea does not only abate, but quickens every year.
However, the Caspian littoral countries face a number of challenges that affect the process of discovery, development, production and transportation of hydrocarbons. One of these challenges is the deficit of drilling infrastructure.
As for Azerbaijan, taking into account the increasing volume of drilling operations on discovered and prospective structures, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) made a decision to build additional four rigs of the last generation worth up to $ 4 billion within five years. The construction of the first of them, as it is known, is scheduled for late 2012.
The end justifies the means. Azerbaijan together with its partners will be able to optimize and accelerate the exploration drilling on prospective structures thanks to these rigs and, therefore, hasten discovering of new fields, accelerate the exploitation of existing ones and will be able to earn additional income by renting them in case of necessity.
The brief details about the number of rigs located in the Caspian Sea, their type, the owners and the current status are mentioned below.
According to the international oil and gas online resource Rigzone, there are 28 drilling rigs in the Caspian Sea, of which seventeen active, seven - in continuous conservation, one - on standby to work, three - in the construction phase.
Around 20 of the total number of rigs have been installed in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. Seventeen of them are old drilling platforms owned by SOCAR, built in 1970-1980 of last century. They have been installed mainly in the shallow part of Absheron. At present, drilling operations are being conducted at ten rigs. Seven rigs are in continuous conservation.
The remaining three rigs operating in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian Sea - is "Istiqlal", "Dede Gorgud" and the Heydar Aliyev rig. According to media reports, almost all the volume of drilling operations on the current PSA-contract falls to these rigs, forced to work on a very busy schedule.
"Istiqlal" rig was built in 1993, the owner - SOCAR, type - semi-submersible, capable of operating in water depths up to 700 meters, drilling depth - up to 6,000 m
"Dede Gorgud" rig: built in 1980, the owner - SOCAR, type - semi-submersible, working in water depths up to 500 m, depth of drilling - up to 6,100 m
Heydar Aliyev rig is currently the largest in the Caspian Sea, built in 2003, the owner - Maersk Drilling, type - semi-submersible, operates at a depth of 900 m, the depth of drilling - up to 9,100 m
There is also "Gurtulush" jack up rig, commissioned in 2000 and designed for drilling in water depths from 10 to 105 m at a depth of up to 8,000 m, present status is unknown.
What do our neighbors in the Caspian Sea have?
"Astra": dislocation - Kazakhstan, the owner - Eurasia Drilling Company, date of commissioning - 1983, type - jack, water depth - 35 m, drilling depth - 4,800 m, status - active.
Parker Rig 257: dislocation - Kazakhstan, the owner - Parker Drilling, date of commissioning - 1977, type - drilling barge, water depth - 5.5 m, drilling depth - 9,100 m, status - conservation in standby to work.
Iran Khazar: dislocation - Turkmenistan, the owner - National Iranian Oil Company, the date of commissioning - 1995, type - jack, water depth - 90 m, drilling depth - 6,100 m, status - active.
"Saturn": dislocation - Turkmenistan, owner - Eurasia Drilling Company, date of commissioning - 2000, type - jack, water depth - 100 m, drilling depth - 7,900 m, status - active.
Iran Amir Kabir: dislocation - Iran, the owner - National Iranian Oil Company, the date of commissioning - 2009, type - semi-submersible, water depth -1,000 m, drilling depth - 6,100 m, status - active.
Caspian Explorer rig, which will operate in shallow water (2.5 - 5.5 m) with a maximum drilling depth of up to 6,000 m was commissioned in Kazakhstan in June 2012. Type of rig - immersion-type.
This is not a complete list. There are a number of rigs operating in shallow water at a depth from 1.5 to 10 meters, among them "Chilim", "Lotos", "Ispolin" and others.
Rigs under construction
Teniz Burgylau Jackup TBN 1: dislocation - Kazakhstan, the owner - Teniz Burgylau LLP, date of commissioning - 2015, type - jack, water depth - 120 m, drilling depth - 6,100 m
TBN1: dislocation - Russia, the owner - Eurasia Drilling Company, date of commissioning - 2012, type - jack, water depth - 100 m, drilling depth - 9,100 m
Caspian Driller: dislocation - Russia, the owner - Dragon Oil, date of commissioning - 2012, type - jack, water depth - 90 m, drilling depth - 9,100 m.