BAKU, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday approved a new contract that gives a new lease of life to "the contract of the century," extending the development of the state's biggest oilfield cluster to 2049, the Azerbaijan State News Agency reported.
The new contract will see the deal between British oil company BP and the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) to develop the ex-Soviet state's biggest oilfield Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) block extended to 2049.
The original agreement, signed in 1994, was due to expire in 2024.
The extension secures large investment in Azerbaijan's oil sector and a one-off bonus of 3.6 billion U.S. dollars from foreign investors, a welcome boost for a country that has struggled with a sharp drop in oil prices in the past three years.
BP and SOCAR agreed to renew their deal in September and it was ratified by Azerbaijan's parliament on Oct. 31. The new agreement will be valid until Dec. 31, 2049.
Under the new production-sharing agreement, SOCAR will increase its share in the ACG from 11.6 percent to 25 percent, while BP's stake will decline to 30.37 percent. BP will remain the project operator.
The ACG fields have estimated recoverable reserves of about 5 billion to 6 billion barrels of petroleum.
The oil output totaled 14 million tons in the first half of 2017, or 585,000 barrels per day, down from 16 million tons a year earlier.
The shareholders in the consortium include BP, SOCAR, Chevron, INPEX, Statoil, ExxonMobil, TPAO, ITOCHU and ONGC Videsh.