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Monday, July 12, 1999 Published at 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Major gas find in Azerbaijan

International oil companies have announced the discovery of large gas reserves in Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian Sea, which could turn the country into a major gas exporter.

An oil executive Andrew Hopwood of BP Amoco said preliminary estimates suggested the gas field could hold at least four-hundred billion cubic metres and was a world-class discovery. Azerbaijan's leading geologist, Khoshbakt Yusifzade, predicted the field could ultimately be shown to contain as much as one-trillion cubic metres. The Azeri president, Heydar Aliyev has ordered the development of a pipeline to carry the gas to world markets, especially Turkey, where gas demand is expected to rise sharply in the next ten years.

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