TBILISI, March 25 (Reuters) – British oil major BP expects to sign a deal with the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project within two months to become a stakeholder in the multi-billion dollar project that aims to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas.
Chris Schlueter, BP country manager for Georgia, told Reuters on Wednesday that all main documents were signed last week.
"We are very, very close ... That has been very good progress over the last week and a half ... I think (we will sign the deal) within the next two months," Schlueter said on the sidelines of the Georgian Oil, Gas, Energy and Infrastructure conference in the capital Tbilisi.
BP said in 2013 it wanted a 12 percent stake in the TANAP project. Azeri firm SOCAR holds a 58 percent stake in TANAP, while Turkish pipeline firm Botas raised its stake to 30 percent from 20 percent in 2014.
TANAP envisages carrying 16 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea, one of the world's largest gas fields, which is being developed by a BP-led consortium.
The pipeline will run from the Turkish-Georgian border to Turkey's border with Bulgaria and Greece. The preliminary cost of the pipeline has been estimated at $10-$11 billion.
Schlueter said the BP-led consortium was on track in Georgia and Azerbaijan with its works on the project, despite the decline in global oil prices.
"Of course, we are tightening our belts ... But there is no change to commitments in our operations," he said.
He added the consortium planned to spend about $6 billion in 2015 on the Shah Deniz II and the South Caucasus Pipeline Expansion (SCPX) projects.
The TANAP project was inaugurated last week and the 1,850 km (1,150 mile) pipeline's construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and start deliveries of gas from Shah Deniz II to Europe in 2019.
(Editing by Mark Potter)
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