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Story by Bloomberg

Malaysia’s state-owned energy company is considering acquiring Statoil ASA’s stake in a gas pipeline into Europe from the Caspian basin, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd, also known as Petronas, may buy Norway’s biggest energy company’s 20 percent stake in the project, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the process is confidential. No final decision has been made and Petronas may choose not to pursue the acquisition, they said.

Statoil plans to exit the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, known as TAP, Rovnaq Abdullayev, the president of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, told Azeri TV channel ANS on July 20. The Oslo-based company declined to comment at the time.

Statoil sold its 15.5 percent stake in the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Petronas for $2.25 billion in October as the company focuses on high-value projects. Statoil, which has scrapped production-growth targets and reduced investment plans until 2016 as it seeks to raise returns for shareholders, has sold assets for more than $22 billion since 2010, including a 10 percent stake in Shah Deniz in 2013.

From 2018 the 870-kilometer (541-mile) TAP project will initially deliver 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually from the Shah Deniz fields through Greece and Albania to Italy. The pipeline, which should eventually be able to deliver 20 bcm of gas a year, will connect to Tanap, a pipeline that will stretch 1,841 kilometers into Turkey.

TAP’s other shareholders include BP Plc and Socar, which each hold 20 percent, as well as Fluxys Belgium with 19 percent, Enagas SA of Spain with 16 percent and Axpo with five percent, according to the Baar, Switzerland-based company’s website.

A spokeswoman for TAP declined to comment via e-mail on potential changes to shareholdings in the project. Representatives for Statoil and Petronas didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.