BTC Pipeline to be Inaugurated on May 25th

On May 25th there will be an official inauguration ceremony in the Azerbaijan capital Baku for the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. According to the Kazakh press office, the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkey will participate in the ceremony. Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev arrived in Baku in order to sign the agreement relevant to Kazakhstan's participation in the BTC project.

The filling of the BTC pipeline with crude oil had began two weeks ago at the Azerbaijan terminal of Sangachal, 40 kilometres South of Baku. Filling the 1,770km long pipeline with oil will require ten million barrels of oil and may last over six months. The loading of the first tanker with oil in the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan is expected to take place in the last quarter of 2005. The pipelines capacity then will be of 1 million barrels of crude per day.

Kazakhstan intends to transport oil from the giant oil field of Kashagan in the north-eastern part of the Caspian Sea via shipping to Baku. The seaport of Aktau is one of two strategic ports due to connect Kazakhstan to the BTC pipeline. Yesterday, President Nazarbayev participated in the reception of the first Kazakh oil tanker "Astana" in Aktau. Mr. Nazarbayev was accompanied by the Minister of energy Vladimir Shkolnik and the president of the National energy company "KazMunaiGas" Uzakbai Karabalin.

A second sea port for oil transportation will be built at the town of Kuryk. Kuryk is presently a small town with a population of 4,800. The site, 76 kilometers south of the country's main seaport of Aktau, is already a natural harbor and KazMunaiGaz intends to link-up to the BTC pipeline through this new port.

At present, 8 million tonnes of Kazakh oil (the total yearly production is in the 40-45 million tonnes per year range) transits via the Caspian. This total is predicted to reach 38 million tonnes per year by 2016.

The Kuryk seaport is expected to be operational by the time the Kashagan oilfield goes into production by 2007-2008. Kuryk is also to handle dry cargo as well as oil.