The Shah Deniz field is estimated to hold 400 billion cubic metres of gas. LUKoil holds a ten-percent stake in the Shah Deniz through a joint venture with Italy's ENI Agip.

LUKoil wants out of the consortium because under a new business strategy it is concentrating on projects where it is the operator, a status which entitles it to a greater share of any profits.

As part of that strategy, earlier this year LUKoil sold off a 10-percent stake in Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chiraq-Guneshli oil field to Japan's Inpex for $1.354 billion.

The Shah Deniz consortium is made up of BP, which is the operator, Azeri state oil company SOCAR, Statoil, LUKAgip, Total, OIEC and TPAO.

In other developments

Alekperov told reporters that LUKoil will increase its natural gas production to between 35 and 40 billion cubic metres a year within five years.

LUKoil is hoping to reduce its reliance on oil by boosting it’s natural gas production from fields in western Siberia and the north of the Caspian Sea.

"There are big gas reserves on the Caspian shelf and the biggest future discoveries there are likely to be of gas fields," Alekperov said in a speech to Azerbaijan's oil industry academy.

"The most promising options will be to transport that gas to Russia, Europe and continental China," he said.

The company is studying a further eight oil and gas structures in the Russian sector of the Caspian sea. Total recoverable reserves for the sector are estimated at 4.4 billion tonnes of oil and gas, said the LUKoil chief.