Rovnag Abdullayev, president of state oil company SOCAR, said the process of selection of the route to export gas produced as part of Stage II of development of the Shah Deniz field had been extended until the first quarter of 2012.
"At present, the proposals submitted by the pipeline consortia are still being carefully studied. There was never the goal of deciding on a route by the end of the year. This process will probably continue until the first quarter of 2012," Abdullayev told journalists on Monday, according to Interfax-Azerbaijan.
A BP spokeswoman said in October that the Shah Deniz consortium expected to take the decision on an export route by the end of this year though no date was set.
Rovnag Abdullayev denied that the Nabucco pipeline, the most ambitious of the competing projects, was out of the running.
“I do not know what the basis is for this forecast. The Nabucco project is at the consideration stage together with the TAP and ITGI projects,” APA reported Abdullayev as saying.
Another senior SOCAR executive, Vagif Aliyev, said at the end of November that the Nabucco project had "unresolved issues", though he did not expand on them.
The export projects under consideration are: the Nabucco pipeline that would pump gas via Turkey and then on through Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to the Baumgarten gas hub in Austria; the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that would pump gas via Turkey, Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to Italy; the IGI-Poseidon (ITGI) project that would pump gas through Turkey, Greece and a new pipeline to Italy; and a final option, the South-East Europe Pipeline, submitted by BP in case the other projects fail to meet the consortium's needs - this pipeline will pass through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Croatia.
When Shah Deniz II is on stream, 16 billion cubic metres of gas per year will be produced per year, of which 6 billion cubic metres will be exported to Turkey and 10 billion via Turkey to Europe.
The gas will be pumped through an expanded South Caucasus gas pipeline via Tbilisi to Erzurum in Turkey.
BP is the operator of the Shah Deniz project while SOCAR and Norway's Statoil are the other members of the consortium.
Referring to plans to build a new oil refinery south of Baku, Rovnag Abdullayev told journalists that SOCAR did not intend to seek foreign financing for the project.