The group managing plans for the TAP pipeline said British supermajor BP, French company Total and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic concluded a shareholder agreement with the pipeline consortium.
Kjetil Tungland, managing director of the pipeline group, said the agreement was a milestone for the pipeline's prospects.
"Having SOCAR, BP and Total entering the TAP joint venture would considerably strengthen the shareholder constellation of our pipeline project and I look forward to this becoming a reality in the future," he said in a statement.
TAP said the shareholder agreement would take effect when the three companies, which govern operations in the Shah Deniz II gas field offshore Azerbaijan, exercise options to take a combined stake of up to 50 percent of the pipeline group.
The planned 320-mile pipeline project is designed to carry as much as 353 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year from Azeri territory of the Caspian Sea to European consumers. It's up against Nabucco West, a planned 807-mile pipeline that would run through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria.
Both projects are competing for natural gas from the Shah Deniz group. A decision is expected from the consortium managing Azeri reserves by June.
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