Construction Begins on BTC Pipeline

Construction of the oil pipeline from Azerbaijan via Georgia to Turkey has been launched by the Baku Tbilisi Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC).

The start of work in Georgia has been celebrated in a ceremony on May 23rd, at the town of Tetriskaro in the presence of President Eduard Shevardnadze and top BTC executives.

Extending for 1,768 kilometers, the line will run from Baku via the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to the Turkish oil terminal at Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. The highest point along the route is 2,850 meters above sea level. More than 35,000 landowners are affected, but none will need to be relocated.

John Høines is Statoil's representative on the board of BTC. He points out that extensive preparations have been made here to avoid negative consequences for the local population and the environment.

The construction phase of the pipeline project will provide roughly 10,000 jobs, with most staff being recruited locally, and there will be a number of positive spin-offs for the countries involved.

With a capacity of one million barrels per day, this pipeline will be the most important export route for oil from Azerbaijan and the southern Caspian to the Mediterranean. Plans call for the USD 2.9 billion line to be ready in the first quarter of 2005 to carry production from the first phase of the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli development in the Caspian.

Statoil has 8.71 percent in the BTC, with operator BP holding 32.6 percent. Statoil has 8.56 percent of the BP-operated Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field.