BP LAUNCHES SOUTH CAUCASIAN PIPELINE CONSTRUCTION

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TBILISI, October 21. (RIA Novosti) - British Petroleum is beginning construction of the South Caucasian gas pipeline (SCP) to transport gas from the Azerbaijani field of Shakh Deniz to the Caspian Sea, the company has announced.

Welding of pipes began on the 213th km of the Azerbaijani part of the pipeline. It will be completed within 10 months, with 39,000 pipes welded in Azerbaijan (443 km) and 22,000 in Georgia (250 km). The construction is to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2005.

The pipeline's diameter is 42 inches, the length of the pipe is 11.5 m. The pipes are supplied by Japan's Sumitomo. The project's subcontractors are Greek CCIC in Azerbaijan and French-American alliance Spie Capag/Petrofac in Georgia. These companies were subcontractors at construction of the Azerbaijani and Georgian parts of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Gas supplies from Baku (Azerbaijan) to Erzurum (East Turkey) are to start in the second half of 2006, said Rob Kelly, vice president of BP-Azerbaijan and head of the Shakh Deniz project. The capacity will at first equal 16 bln cu m of gas annually and will later be raised to 30 bln cu m. The recoverable reserves of the field are estimated at over 700 bln cu m of gas.

The participants of the project are BP (25.5%), Statoil (25.5%), GNKAR (10%), LUKoil (10%), Total (10%), NIOC (10%) and TPAO (9%).

The permit to build the SCP was issued on February 27, 2003. Its cost is estimated at $900 mln.

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