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An explosion near an offshore field in the Caspian Sea has had media guessing as to what happened, after several shots and videos were released online, followed by a statement from the Azeri state oil and gas company saying that nearby oil and gas platforms were safe.
"No incidents have happened at the offshore fields and industrial structures controlled by SOCAR, work continues normally," a spokesman for the company said as quoted by CNN.
On Twitter, an expert in a phenomenon known as mud volcanoes said Azerbaijan was home to “ludicrously many mud volcanoes.” He went on to explain that the mud volcanoes in the country are among the world’s biggest and that there are several large eruptions every year. Many of them, Mark Tingay added, can cause big fires.
“Mud volcanoes, such as the ones in Azerbaijan, can also be plumbed into active hydrocarbon systems,” he wrote. “And so they can erupt oil and natural gas, as well as mud. Hence, they burn when the gases ignite...”
In the latest update at the time of writing, Tingay wrote that data suggests the explosion was near a well-known mud volcano.
However, Reuters reported that the Azeri Oil Workers’ Rights Protection Committee had said fire had broken out at an old exploration site in the Umid gad field. SOCAR denied this information. So did Azerbaijan’s seismological service.
“No accidents occurred on the oil platforms or ships,” Gurban Yetirmishli, the director of the seismological service, told the APA news agency, as quoted by BNP News. “This is a sign of a mud volcano. There are many mud volcanoes in the Caspian Sea, one of which erupted.”
Azerbaijan is among the biggest oil and gas producers in Central Asia and a partner in the OPEC+ production control agreement. It is also a major gas exporter to the European Union. Most of its oil and gas production comes from offshore fields in the Caspian Sea.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com