A Western-led consortium for the development of a $7,300 million concession in the Azeri sector of the Caspian Sea voted in London on 7 February to increase state Turkish Petroleum Corporation’s (TPAO) share to 6.75 per cent from 1.75 per cent.

At the same time, the consortium members voted to turn down a bid by Iran for a 5 per cent stake, according to the semi-official Anatolian news agency. Turkey was disappointed last autumn, when Baku agreed in principle to give Iran this stake. However, the final decision rested with the consortium members meeting in London for an auction of shares held by Azeri state oil company SOCAR.

Ankara is also pressing hard for the construction of an estimated $4,000 million pipeline between Baku and Ceyhan. Tentative US support was extended for this proposal at the end of January.

The consortium secured the 30-year concession last September, and is led by The British Petroleum Company (BP) and Norway’s Statoil, and besides TPAO, includes the US’ Amoco, McDermott International, Pennzoil and Unocal, the UK’s Ramco Energy, Saudi Arabia’s Delta-Nimir, and Russia’s Lukoil.

Output from the Caspian concession, including the huge Azeri and Gunesli fields, is due to start within 18 months. Production is expected to reach 80,000 barrels a day (b/d) by 1997 and rise to a peak of 700,000 b/d. The fields in the concession are estimated to have reserves of 3,800 million barrels. Current Azeri production is around 160,000 b/d.