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 per cent 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 per cent stake in Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz field, which exports gas to Europe via a pipeline in which Lukoil also owns a share. 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.”

* Source: Global Witness