BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 27 (UPI) -- \Most of the contracts for a natural gas pipeline from Azerbaijan to Europe have now been awarded, BP regional President Gordon Birrell said.
BP and the South Caucasus Pipeline Co. awarded $735 million in contracts for the construction of more than 300 miles of pipelines and associated infrastructure in Azerbaijan and Georgia to a group led by a joint venture between Italian company Saipem and Azerbaijan's Azfen.
"We have now awarded most of the contracts for South Caucasus pipeline Expansion project and associated expansion facilities in Azerbaijan and Georgia," Birrell said in a statement Monday. "This is tremendous progress."
The pipeline project is part of an effort by the BP-led consortium to develop Phase II of the Shah Deniz natural gas field off the coast of Azerbaijan. The gas field is expected to help diversify a European energy sector that depends heavily on Russia.
Pipeline construction is slated for January and should be completed by 2017. First gas from Phase II of the Shah Deniz gas field is expected by late 2018.