Lukoil to stay in Azeri field

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian oil major Lukoil has decided against quitting a giant Azeri gas field, and instead said yesterday it doubled its stake in the BP-led project by buying out shares from Italy’s ENI. Lukoil has been considering selling its share in the mammoth Shakh Deniz field for several years after raising more than $1.3 billion by selling its stake in a neighboring oil field. The Russian firm has said it wants to focus on projects where it holds majority stakes, and proposed selling its LUKAgip joint venture, which owns 10 percent in Shakh Deniz and 24 percent in a small Egyptian field. But the company said in a statement on Wednesday it had agreed with ENI to buy out the Italian firm’s 50 percent interest in LUKAgip. Shakh Deniz is to become the main source of gas for a planned pipeline to Turkey. Project leaders BP and Statoil have said the pipeline could be extended next decade if new buyers emerge in Greece and Southern Europe.