New Pipeline Gives Caspian Oil Access to World Markets

Today's inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline marks a major step in BP's continuing long-term strategy of delivering growing volumes of oil and gas from new hydrocarbon provinces around the world.

The 1770-kilometer pipeline will carry one million barrels of oil a day from the BP-operated Azeri Chirag Gunashli (ACG) oilfield in the Caspian Sea to the eastern Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, bypassing the sensitive and heavily used Bosphorous Straits.

The pipeline was officially inaugurated at the Sangachal terminal, near Baku, by President Ilham Aliyev of the Azerbaijan Republic, President Mikhail Saakashvilli of Georgia and President Ahmet Sezer of Turkey, joined by President Nursaltan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. Speaking at the ceremony, BP chief executive Lord Browne described the project as "an heroic engineering achievement, as ground-breaking in today's context as Prudhoe Bay and the Trans-Alaskan pipeline were 30 years ago.

"The pipeline opens up massive new fields in the Caspian Sea to world markets, enhancing security of supply for decades to come. And it does so in a way that avoids the transit of large numbers of tankers through the narrow and congested Bosphorous."

BP is operating four major projects in the Caspian region on behalf of its consortium partners which already add up to more than $20 billion of investment, with a further $10 billion likely to be spent mainly on offshore development by the end of the decade.

As well as the Azeri Chirag Gunashli (ACG) oil field and BTC pipeline, the projects include the Shah Deniz gas field and associated South Caucasus pipeline, which will be completed in 2006. Once fully on stream by 2008, ACG will provide approximately one million barrels of oil a day to world markets.

The BTC partners have contributed more than $100 million to community investment, environmental and cultural heritage protection programs among 454 communities along the pipeline's route. At current oil prices the major oil and gas fields and pipelines will provide revenues to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey of more than $150 billion between 2005 and 2024.

The Caspian is one of BP's major new profit centers, along with the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, offshore Angola, Trinidad, Egypt, Indonesia and Russia.