Winter 1997 (5.4)
NAOC: Current Developments
North Absheron Operating Company (NAOC) is already busy drilling
its first exploration well only nine months after ratification
of the Ashrafi Dan-Ulduzu license area and less than one year
after signing the agreement in Gulustan Palace. This is Azerbaijan's
fourth multibillion dollar consortium contract for oil exploration
and development in the Caspian. NAOC, as the operating consortium,
represents five shareholder companies-Amoco, Unocal, ITOCHU,
Delta Oil and SOCAR. Drilling began on November 30, 1997, with
the Dada Gorgud rig which is targeting the promising Ashrafi
structure-the first of two large structures lying in 170 meters
of water within the 453 sq km contract area, 100 km east of the
The NAOC staff outside their newly refurbished office
in the"Inner City" (Ichari Shahar) in Baku. November
1998 work program includes the drilling of a second exploration
well, continued investment for the upgrading of the Shelf 5 and
Dada Gorgud semi-submersible drilling rigs and ongoing technical
evaluations for the prospect area. The first Caspian Sea "rig
sharing" agreement between four international consortiums
was finalized in early 1997, which will provide two semi-submersible
floating drilling units to be used by various consortiums to
operate in water depths up to 700 meters and drilling depths
up to 7,600 meters. Earlier this year, the Dada Gorgud was used
for drilling wells for AIOC and CIPCO. The second drilling rig,
Shelf 5, is expected to become operational in October 1998. NAOC
will invest approximately $25 million towards the refurbishment
of these two drilling units.
Several other key work program milestones have also been achieved.
The 3D seismic data that was acquired from Caspian Geophysical
in the spring identified two large prospective structures, Ashrafi
and Dan-Ulduzu, in the contract area. They both will be tested
during the ongoing work program. The Environmental Impact Assessment
Study on the exploratory drilling has been presented at a public
meeting in August, building upon previous work in the Caspian.
NAOC's work plan is designed to protect the Caspian environment.
Baseline data will be monitored during operations to ensure there
is no adverse impact.
real success story of NAOC is its people. Since the beginning
of 1997, our staff has grown to 26. We moved into our refurbished
offices at 22 Boyuk Gala Street in Baku's old "Ichari Shahar"
(Inner City) in March. There are 20 full-time Azerbaijani staff
and six expatriates permanently assigned to Baku from the partner
companies who are responsible for drilling, geoscience and finances.
The expatriates bring past work and cultural experiences from
eleven countries-Japan, Egypt, Philippines, Trinidad, Somalia,
Thailand, Poland, Scotland, Iran, Pakistan and the U.S. They
represent three international exploration and production companies-Amoco,
Unocal and ITOCHU.
The Azeri employees have come from regions as far away as the
Georgian border and bring decades of total work experience from
the private, diplomatic and government sectors, including SOCAR
and the military. The Azerbaijani staff forms the core of NAOC,
mainly in positions of accounting, administration, drilling,
engineering, geoscience and other disciplines. The ages of the
employees range from 19 to 50. Women make up the majority, including
the top national position.
Staffing the new consortium was a challenge those first few months.
The NAOC management is convinced the staff is "right sized"
for the work program. The recruiting assessment included questions
about what prospective employees expected from NAOC and how they
would solve and deal with specific problematic situations.
In addition, NAOC is involved with training to ensure that employees
have an opportunity to reach their full potential. Two Azerbaijani
staff members have recently returned from separate assignments
in the U.S. where they worked and trained with new geoscience
and computer technology. Konul Mammadova, who handles computing
support and network management at NAOC, took classes for Microsoft
Certification which acquainted her with state-of-the-art technology.
She also got the chance to visit NAOC's partner company offices
of Amoco and Unocal in Houston to learn how computing technology
is managed in large corporations.
Since its inception,
NAOC has been committed to building its foundation on the strength
of the Azerbaijani people, which it considers to be Azerbaijan's
of Amoco is president of NAOC.
(5.4) Winter 1997
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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