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Botas Said in Talks for Total’s Share of Largest Azeri Gas Field

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Botas Boru Hatlari Ile Petrol Tasima AS, Turkey’s state pipeline company, is in talks to buy Total SA’s share of Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz natural-gas project, two people with knowledge of the negotiations said.

Botas is also seeking Total’s stake in the South Caucasus Pipeline, or SCP, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Total holds 10 percent of the field and the pipeline.

A sale would follow a similar move by Shah Deniz partner Statoil ASA, which in December divested a 10 percent stake in the field and the SCP for $1.45 billion to BP Plc and the Azeri state oil company to reduce costs. It now holds 15.5 percent.

Shah Deniz’s second development phase, estimated to cost $28 billion together with the pipeline, will start producing in 2018. The fuel will travel to Turkey’s eastern border via the SCP before being transferred to a second link to Greece. The European Union is looking to Caspian projects to help ease its reliance on Russia, which provides about a quarter of its gas.

Christian Giudicelli, head of Total’s Azeri unit, didn’t respond to e-mails, text messages and telephone calls seeking comment. Botas spokesman Ahmet Akdag also didn’t answer calls.

The BP-led group responsible for the field off the Azeri coast signed $45 billion of contracts in December to develop and pipe the gas to customers in Turkey, Greece and Italy. Turkey’s state oil and gas company Turkiye Petrolleri AO is already a partner in the development, Azerbaijan’s largest gas project.

Azeri news service Turan reported today that Total has been seeking a buyer since the end of 2013. Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources began talks with Botas over the potential deal early this year, Turan said, citing an unidentified ministry official.

Energy Intelligence Group reported the possible sale yesterday, citing an official at State Oil Co. of Azerbaijan.

To contact the reporter on this story: Zulfugar Agayev in Baku at zagayev@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Hellmuth Tromm at htromm@bloomberg.net

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