BAKU, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan signed contracts on Thursday to supply European buyers with gas, offering an alternative supply source to Russia towards the end of the decade.
Moscow has increased its diplomatic efforts to bring oil and gas rich Azerbaijan closer to its orbit as Russian President Vladimir Putin has been keen to restore influence over former Soviet republics.
However, his trip to Azerbaijan last month yielded few results, dashing Moscow's hopes of challenging the dominance of Western energy majors there.
Earlier this year, Azeri state oil company SOCAR and partners including BP and Statoil selected the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) for potential gas deliveries to Europe, following more than a decade of planning, dealing a blow for Russia's aspiration for tighter control over gas routes.
SOCAR said on Thursday that buyers of Azeri gas from its Shah Deniz II project are Shell, Bulgargas, Gas Natural Fenosa, Greek DEPA, Germany's E.ON, French GDF Suez , Italian regional utility Hera Trading, Swiss AXPO and Italian Enel.
"It is a ground-breaking contract as it secures supplies to Europe from a new supply region for decades at conditions reflecting European gas markets," Christopher Delbruck, the newly appointed CEO of E.ON Global Commodities SE, said in a statement.
He added that E.ON's contract with SOCAR spans 25 years during which the company will get 40 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas.
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