French oil and gas company Total is set to begin production from the Absheron gasfield in Azerbaijan from 2021.

The decision follows the optimistic results achieved in the first appraisal well drilling at the offshore field, reported Reuters.

Total managing director and country chair in Azerbaijan Denis Lemarchal was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We just finished (drilling) the appraisal well. It was quite positive and confirmed the estimates that we made when we (first) discovered (gas) in 2012.”

Located in the Caspian Sea around 100km from Azerbaijan capital Baku, the Absheron gasfield is estimated to host 350 billion cubic metres (Bcm) of gas and 45 tonnes of gas condensate. The site covers an area of 270km² of the Absheron block and lies in 500m of water.

Total operates the field with 50% interest. The other stakeholders are State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic is Socar, which also has 50%. The parties increased their share in the field in 2017 after Engie exited, leaving its 20%.

Total plans to develop the field in multiple phases, with the first currently underway. In the first phase, production is expected to be around 1.5Bcm of gas per year. In the following phase, the production will be increased to 5Bcm of gas annually.

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The Absheron gasfield will supply to the domestic market as well as it will bolster Azerbaijan’s position as a key natural gas exporter. However, Lemarchal told Reuters that buyers of Absheron gas are yet to be finalised.