BP has delayed the first phase of the Caspian Sea offshore project because Turkey has yet to make a firm commitment to import natural gas from the development. Shah Deniz contains approximately 1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. This natural gas was to be exported to Turkey via a new pipeline. Originally the BP-led consortium had scheduled the start date of the project for July, then pushed it back to September. The start date is now October because Turkey's Botas has not yet provided import guarantees. An earlier sales and purchase agreement called for Turkey to lift 2-bil cu m of gas from Shakh Deniz starting in 2005 with imports rising by 1 billion cubic meters each year until reaching a peak of 6.6 billion cubic meters per year. However, this sales agreement will not take effect until the Shah Deniz project begins.
Meetings are scheduled to take place in Athens next month between Botas, Socar and Depa about plans to transport 30 billion cubic meters per year of Azeri gas to Europe via Turkey and Greece. Turkey and Greece have already signed letters of intent to build a 280-kilometer pipeline linking their two gas distribution systems.