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Russian oil firm Lukoil hopes to participate in construction of the 1mn b/d Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, company president Vagit Alekperov said during a visit to Baku last month. And sources at the company claim that President Vladimir Putin will give his tacit backing despite earlier objections from the Russian government.
Alekperov claimed Lukoil could take up to 7.5pc of a proposed international consortium for the BP-led project as soon as the end of the first quarter of this year. Azerbaijan earlier suggested that Russian firms take part in the sponsor group of companies financing feasibility studies for BTC. But these proposals have been opposed by the Russian government and foreign ministry, which says national oil companies should not participate in "geopolitically competitive" Caspian export routes that could undermine Russia's own transit role.
The issue of Russian participation in BTC, according to a Lukoil source, was discussed during Putin's London meeting with UK prime minister Tony Blair last month. They agreed that the Russian authorities will not prevent Russian firms from …