Dignitaries Inaugurate Caspian Oil Line

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline was officially opened Thursday at its terminus in the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean.

Statoil has an 8.71% stake in the 1,768-kilometer transport system, which runs from the Azerbaijan capital of Baku via Tbilisi, capital of Georgia.

Guests at the opening included the presidents of all three countries hosting the line and Norway’s Anita Utset, a deputy petroleum and energy minister.

Speeches during the ceremony characterized the pipeline as the first great engineering feat of the 21st century.

“BTC represents high-class engineering and construction skills,” said Peter Mellbye, Statoil’s executive vice president for International Exploration & Production. “(It) sets a new international standard for laying pipelines on land. This project has yielded major environmental gains.”

Operated by BP, the BTC system means that oil from Azerbaijan no longer needs to be shipped from the Black Sea through the narrow Bosporus strait. This brings the crude to world markets more quickly while also substantially reducing the risk of oil spills.

“BTC is a good example of constructive and long-term cooperation between the host countries,” observed Mellbye. “In addition, it will simplify the development of new fields in Azerbaijan and the rest of the Caspian region.”

The first cargo of Caspian oil was lifted from Ceyhan by the British Hawthorne tanker in June, after roughly a year spent filling the pipeline with 10 million barrels of crude.

Deriving from the BP-operated Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in the Caspian, a further seven consignments have been lifted from the Turkish port in recent weeks.

Statoil has 8.56% in the international partnership developing ACG, which plans to produce 500,000 barrels per day from the field in 2006. Output is due to reach a million daily barrels by 2008.

Other Statoil interests in Azerbaijan include the Shah Deniz gas and condensate field now under development, as well as the production sharing agreement for Alov, Araz, and Sharg.


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