The political tensions of recent months, coupled with several
years of growing anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and
Central Asia, have caused many U.S. companies to reconsider projects
in those areas.
For example, Kerr-McGee, which once operated an
office in Yemen, no longer has a presence in that country.
exception (of sorts) to that trend is Devon Energy, which is
continuing work as part of a multi-company partnership on projects
in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic located by the Caspian Sea
and in the same region as Iran, Iraq, Syria and
Although the man on the street may assume that
entire region of the world should be avoided, that isn't the case,
according to David Sambrooks, vice president and general manager in
charge of international operations for Oklahoma City-based Devon
He said Azerbaijan remains one nation that holds great
potential for U.S. energy companies.
"Everything has been very
stable for quite some time, and going forward, we see it to be the
same," Sambrooks said. "As you know, after Sept. 11, that's been
questioned in a lot of different areas."
He noted that Azerbaijan
was one of the first countries in the region to throw its support
behind the United States after the attack on the Pentagon and the
World Trade Center.
"We think the post-9-11 outlook for
Azerbaijan is even more positive," Sambrooks said.
In the early
1990s, the country was marred by constant strife and saw the fall of
several governments, but relative stability has ensued in recent
Sambrooks said Azerbaijan, with a population consisting
largely of Turkic Muslims, has not been struck with the anti-
American sentiment that has made it difficult for U.S. oil companies
to operate in other countries.
Even if the country weren't open
to foreign investment, the area would still appeal to U.S. energy
companies due to the presence of a "very, very large field"
containing estimated reserves of more than 4 billion barrels.
Production is already under way in Azerbaijan, yielding about
130,000 barrels a day. Sambrooks said the peak rate at the field
would be over a million barrels per day.
"That will take some
time before it gets to that," Sambrooks said. "The developments are
going to take a number of years until they ramp up to those peak
He said peak production is not expected until sometime in
2007 to 2010.
Azerbaijan borders the Caspian Sea on its eastern
edge, but to the south, the country is bordered by Iran - one of the
three points of President Bush's "axis of evil."
To the north,
Russia and Georgia border Azerbaijan, and to the west lies
While Azerbaijan's proximity to Iran hasn't deterred
Devon officials, political realities have still impacted some
activity related to the Azerbaijan field. …