By Lada Evgrashina and Margarita Antidze
BAKU, May 7 (Reuters) - BP on Tuesday reported an 8.4 percent drop in its quarterly output at Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) fields, falling faster than the country's overall production in a trend criticised by its president.
In contrast, the British oil major said gas output rose from the Shah Deniz field, the country's biggest.
BP said oil output at ACG fell to 8.06 million tonnes in January-March 2013 from 8.8 million in the same period last year.
BP's oil output at ACG was 32.9 million tonnes in 2012, down from 35.4 million tonnes in 2011.
Falling oil production at the ACG oilfields, the biggest in Azerbaijan, has raised concerns in the ex-Soviet republic and prompted President Ilham Aliyev to accuse BP of making 'false promises'.
Officials at BP and state energy company SOCAR say the geology of the country's main oilfields has fallen short of original expectations and they have cited maintenance and higher safety standards at BP after the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as reasons behind the falls of the past two years.
Extending a drop that began in 2011, Azerbaijan's overall oil and condensate production fell 5.3 percent to 42.98 million tonnes in 2012 from 45.40 million in 2011.
Oil production in the first quarter of 2013 was 10.8 million tonnes, down 4.4 percent year on year.
BP said it exported 71 million barrels of oil from the ACG between January and March, down from 76.6 million barrels in the quarter a year ago. Exports via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline declined to 61 million barrels from 66.7 million.
GAS OUTPUT UP
Natural gas output at the Shah Deniz gas field, also operated by BP, rose to 2.42 billion cubic metres (bcm) from 2.0 bcm in the same quarter last year.
It produced 0.63 million tonnes of condensate at Shah Deniz, up from 0.5 million.
Shah Deniz is being developed by consortium partners BP, Statoil, SOCAR, Total and others. It is estimated to contain 1.2 trillion cubic metres of gas.
Shah Deniz I has been pumping gas since 2006, while gas from its second stage is expected to reach Europe by 2019.
Overall gas production in Azerbaijan rose 6.0 percent to 7.1 bcm in January-March from 6.7 bcm a year earlier.
SOCAR expects production to rise to 28-29 bcm this year from 26.8 bcm in 2012.
The country ships its oil via five main routes: Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, neighbouring Georgia's Supsa, Batumi and Kulevi ports, and Turkey's Ceyhan.
It sells gas to the domestic market and to Georgia and Turkey via the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline as well as to Russia.
(Writing by Margarita Antidze; editing by Jason Neely) Keywords: AZERBAIJAN BP/PRODUCTION
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