Construction of an export pipeline to carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea's Shakh Deniz field offshore Azerbaijan to Turkey should begin in 2004 and be completed in the first quarter of 2006, David Woodward, president of BP Azerbaijan, said Monday.
The timetable is dependent on Turkey providing guarantees that it will import fixed volumes of gas through the pipeline. BP, the operator of the Shakh Deniz consortium, had earlier hoped to finish construction of the 1,050-km Erzerum line in the second quarter of 2005, but an economic recession in Turkey has cast doubt over earlier projections that gas demand would boom in the country. Negotiations with Turkey's Botas about gas import guarantees are in progress, Woodward said.
BP expects to sanction the project in October, he said. During the first phase of the development some $3.2-bil will be invested in the development of the offshore field and export pipeline.

BP has a 25.5% share in the Shakh Deniz group alongside Statoil 25.5%, Iran's OIEC 10%, TotalFinaElf 10%, the Russian/Italian joint venture LukAgip 10%, Turkey's TPAO 9% and Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar 10%. An earlier sales and purchase agreement called for Turkey to lift 2-bil cu m/yr of gas from Shakh Deniz starting in 2005 with imports rising by 1-bil cu m/yr each year until reaching a peak of 6.6-bil cu m/yr.