UPDATE 1-BP, Statoil and Total buy into TANAP gas pipeline
* BP, Statoil to get 12 pct each, Total 5 pct
* Discussions expected to be completed in a few weeks
BAKU Nov 7 (Reuters) - BP, Statoil and Total have agreed to acquire a combined 29 percent in the Trans-Anatolian natural gas pipeline project (TANAP), designed to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas, Azeri state energy company SOCAR said.
BP and Statoil each will have a 12 percent stake, and Total will get 5 percent, SOCAR head Rovnag Abdullayev said on Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for BP-Azerbaijan said the company expected completion of discussions in a few weeks over participation in the TANAP pipeline project, which would take Azeri gas to Turkey and to other markets in Europe.
"BP is working with other participants of the project in order to speed up technical and commercial aspects of its implementation," spokeswoman Tamam Bayatly said. She did not reveal any financial details.
The European Commission aims to bring in large volumes of Central Asian gas through a so-called Southern Corridor pipeline as it tries to reduce dependence on Russian gas and avoid supply disruptions caused by disputes between Russia and Ukraine.
Construction of the TANAP pipeline from the Turkish-Georgian border to Turkey's border with Europe is expected to start at the end of 2013, and the project's first phase to be ready at the end of 2017 or early 2018.
Turkey has a 20 percent stake in TANAP, while SOCAR holds 80 percent. SOCAR offered in September to sell BP, Statoil and Total 29 percent of the total, taken out of its stake.
Azerbaijan's $33 billion state oil fund said on Tuesday it would help finance the TANAP project starting from 2013 but did not specify the amount of money it might invest.
The preliminary total cost of TANAP has been estimated at $20 billion.
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