LONDON, January 8th 2024 - Azerbaijan, host of next year’s COP climate summit, is set to boost its gas production by a third over the next decade, with fossil fuel companies forecast to spend $41.4 billion on the country’s gas fields, according to new analysis.
Azerbaijan’s top foreign gas investors include BP, TotalEnergies and Iran’s national oil company, as well as Lukoil – Russia’s largest private oil and gas producer. Together these companies are forecast to spend $16.8 billion on their Azeri fossil gas operations over the next ten years, according to Global Witness analysis of Rystad Energy data.
Overall, the $41.4 billion that fossil fuel firms are set to spend on Azeri gas would pay the cost of installing more than 1,170 offshore wind turbines.
Azerbaijan is set to increase its gas production by a third, from 37 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2024 to 49 bcm in 2033, according to Rystad data. In total, fossil fuel companies are forecast to extract 411 bcm of Azeri gas over the next 10 years. This would emit 781 million tonnes of carbon dioxide – more than two times the annual carbon emissions of the UK.
Despite Azerbaijan having one of the world’s most corrupt and repressive regimes, last year Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, signed a pact with Azerbaijan’s dictator Ilham Aliyev to double the country’s gas exports to the EU by 2027.
The agreement aims to reduce Europe’s dependency on Russian gas exports, even though Lukoil was Azerbaijan’s third largest gas producer when the deal was signed – accounting for 15% of the country’s output according to Rystad – and is set to remain a significant player well past the EU’s 2027 deadline for quitting Russian gas.
Lukoil holds a 19.99% stake in Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz field, which exports gas to Europe via a pipeline that Lukoil also owns a share of. The company has contributed billions to Russia’s state coffers, which are being used to wage war in Ukraine.
Dominic Eagleton, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said:
“Drug dealers don’t fix drug addictions, and petrostates won't fix the climate crisis. As we hurtle towards climate collapse, we’re now being asked to put our future in the hands of Azerbaijan, a petrostate that’s propped up by oil supermajors and is massively increasing its gas production. We need climate policymaking to be run by climate leaders, not countries with a vested interest in keeping the world hooked on oil and gas.”
Global Witness wrote to Lukoil to seek its comments on our findings. The company had not given a response by the time of publication.
Data on forecast gas production in Azerbaijan were sourced from energy business intelligence agency Rystad Energy’s UCube database. UCube is an integrated field-by-field database of the global upstream oil and gas market, covering the time span from 1900 to 2100. Rystad’s data is widely referenced by major oil and gas companies, the media and international bodies such as the IEA.
UCube takes into account oil and gas demand to forecast asset-level supply. Forecasts are based on data sources including company reporting (e.g. earnings and profits reporting) and policies, government sources, energy agencies, academic research and news articles.
We sourced the data of operated gas production in Azerbaijan from 2024-2033. The data includes all assets that are currently producing, those under development (assets for which development has been approved but production has not yet started), and discovered (assets where discoveries have been made, but are not yet in a phase of further development).
The production data covers fossil gas only. We excluded data on forecast gas condensate production, making these conservative production estimates.
Emissions calculations are based on the widely used metric of 1.9 kg CO2 emissions per cubic metre of fossil gas consumed. The emissions figures do not factor in greenhouse gas emissions from gas production, processing and transport, making them conservative estimates.
The figure for offshore wind turbines is based on IRENA (2023) ‘Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2022’.
Detailed methodology and data are available on request.