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GDF Suez buys into LUKOIL Azeri project

Russian oil company LUKOIL has sold France's GDF Suez a 15% stake in an offshore exploration project in Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian Sea, LUKOIL's international arm said.

The deal has been approved by the project's other shareholder, Azeri national oil company SOCAR.

The project is known as D-222 and LUKOIL has drilled one well, in 2005, which found no commercial reserves of hydrocarbons.

LUKOIL had been considering pulling out of the project, but then decided to go ahead and drill a second well, which is scheduled for November this year.

The sides did not disclose the value of the deal, which leaves LUKOIL with 65%, SOCAR with 20% and GDF Suez with 15%.

LUKOIL and France's Total each own 10% in Azerbaijan's largest gas field, Shakh-Deniz, co-led by BP and StatoilHydro.

The companies have started exports from Shakh-Deniz to Turkey and want to turn the giant deposit into one of the main sources of gas for the planned Nabucco gas pipeline to southern Europe. (Reuters)