British oil giant BP and energy-rich Azerbaijan today prolonged their sharing deal for the Caucasus nation's largest oilfields until 2050. "This time round, the contract is being signed on better terms for Azerbaijan," the ex-Soviet nation's President Ilham Aliyev said during a signing ceremony in the capital, Baku. Azerbaijan's state energy company SOCAR's share in the consortium will rise to 25 per cent under the new deal -- up from 11.7 per cent in the current contract, which was due to expire in 2024, Aliyev said, adding that foreign investors will pay Azerbaijan a USD 3-billion (2.5-billion-euro) bonus. BP's share will stand at 30.37 per cent in the consortium that also includes the United States companies, Chevron (9.56 per cent) and ExxonMobil (6.79 per cent), Japanese Inpex (9.31 per cent) and ITOCHU (3.65 per cent), Norwegian Statoil (7.27 per cent), Turkish TPAO (5.73 per cent), and Indian ONGC Videsh (2.31 per cent). The initial contract between Azerbaijan and the consortium of foreign oil companies to develop the country's Caspian Sea oil reserves was signed in 1994. Oil production started in 1997 and more than three billion barrels have been produced so far. Most of Azerbaijani oil is being pumped to Europe through the world's second-longest pipeline, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), via Georgia and Turkey, bypassing Russia.
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