BTC pipeline to start up in September

Eric Watkins, Oil and Gas Journal, March 29, 2005

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 29 - Exports of crude oil via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline will begin in September, according to key state officials connected with the project.

Gokhan Cologlu, director general of the Turkish section, announced the September date to an oil and gas conference in Ankara on Mar. 29, confirming remarks made Mar. 23 by Natik Aliyev, president of State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijani Republic (Socar).

"We are trying to stay on a schedule whereby the first tanker will sail from the [Turkish] port of Ceyhan in September," Aliyev said.

Explaining that there had been delays due to a harsh winter this year, he said: "We are doing everything possible to stay on schedule and not to be late. In Georgia all that remains is to cross the Kura River, but I think that by April we will finish everything."

He said oil will start to flow in the Azerbaijani section in May and from Georgia in July. "We will complete all mechanical work on the Turkish section" on June 30, Aliyev said.

Production began in January from Central Azeri field off Baku, part of the giant Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli complex that will supply much of the oil carried by the BTC pipeline (OGJ Online, Feb. 15, 2005).