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Statoil, Total Withdraw from Turkey Pipeline Plans

France’s Total SA and Norway’s Statoil are pulling back from the planned Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (Tanap) over soaring cost estimates, paving the way for Turkish companies to raise their stakes in the project.

Statoil was planning to acquire a 12% stake and Total a 5% stake in Tanap, which would bring Azeri natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe, but both companies now say they have dropped their interest.

Turkey has a 20% share in Tanap, while Azerbaijan has an 80% share.

Statoil’s planned 12% and Total’s planned 5% will now be split among Azerbaijan’s state-owned Socar oil company, BP Plc, and Turkish state-owned companies TPAO and BOTAS.

Turkey has expressed interest in raising its stake in Tanap to 30%.

The project is expected to meet with delays, though originally the plan was to see it up and running and delivering gas to the Turkish market by 2018 and the European market by 2019.

Once online, Tanap—which will run from the Turkish-Georgian border to Turkey’s border with Europe--would carry an initial 16 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Azerbaijan's super giant Shah Deniz II field in the Caspian Sea. Capacity is expected to reach 23 billion cubic meters in 2020 and 31 bcm in 2026.

For the initial start-up period, the plan is to sell 6 bcm of Azeri gas to Turkey and 10 bcm to Europe.

Tanap’s estimated construction costs were initially $7.5 billion, but have since risen to around $12 billion and both Total and Statoil believe the financial risk is too high.

The project is an important one for the European Union, which is hoping to bring in large volumes of Azeri gas to lessen Russia’s gas stranglehold on European countries and as a bulwark against potential supply disruptions resulting from gas wars between Russia and Ukraine.

Earlier this year, SOCAR and its partners selected the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as the connecting pipeline for Tanap at the Turkish-European border.

By. James Stafford of Oilprice.com

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