BAKU, May 13 (Reuters) - French oil firm Total is expected to draft a development plan as operator for Azerbaijan's Apsheron gas field in the Caspian Sea by the end of 2014, Azeri state energy company SOCAR's president said on Tuesday.
SOCAR and Total signed a joint venture deal for further exploration drilling on the Apsheron prospect in 2009, with estimated reserves of 300-250 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas and 45 tonnes of condensate. Each company has 40 percent in the consortium, while French group GDF Suez, which joined the project later, owns 20 percent.
"Total will complete drafting the Apsheron development programme by the end of 2014 and will submit it to the consortium," Rovnag Abdullayev told reporters.
Total started drilling on the Apsheron prospect in 2011.
Abdullayev said that the consortium expects to produce 5 bcm of gas per year, but did not specify when production was expected to start.
He said that Total decided to concentrate on the Apsheron project after taking a decision to sell its 10 percent stake in the Caspian Shah Deniz II gas project to the southwest.
"Total's strategy is pulling out from projects where it has a minority share in favour of projects where it is an operator," Abdullayev said.
(Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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