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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Azerbaijan boosts Greek gas hopes

Azerbaijan27 February 2007 - Upstream onLine - Natural gas may reach Greece from Azerbaijan as early as mid-2007 after Turkey builds an additional transit link for the fuel, Azeri Economy Minister Haydar Babayev said today, ahead of talks in Athens next month. Greece and Azerbaijan will hold inter-governmental talks on 14 to 16 March, he said. "The key issue, which Greece wants to raise at the talks, is the gas supply issues," Babayev told reporters. He said Turkey would be ready to pipe Azeri gas onward to Europe by the middle of the year. Azeri gas is seen as an important new source of energy for Europe as the continent is wary of its growing reliance on Russian gas. Azerbaijan's top gas field is the giant Shakh Deniz deposit, developed by BP and Statoil , which have already pre-sold most of its first phase output to Turkey and Georgia. The two companies have said they will not have enough gas to start large-scale exports to southern Europe via Turkish territory before 2012, when Shakh Deniz is due to boost output. Turkey last year delayed putting on stream a $300 million, 285-kilometre gas pipeline linking it to Greece, but said it should be commissioned before 2008, Reuters reported.

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