Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is a convert|1768|km|mi|0 crude oil pipeline from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It connects Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; and Ceyhan, a port on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, hence its name. It is the second longest oil pipeline in the world after the Druzhba pipeline. The first oil that was pumped from the Baku end of the pipeline on May 10 2005 reached Ceyhan on May 28 2006.



The Caspian Sea lies above one of the world's largest groups of oil and gas fields. As the Caspian Sea is landlocked, transporting oil to Western markets is complicated. During Soviet times, all transportation routes from the Caspian region were built through Russia.

The collapse of the Soviet Union inspired a search for new routes. Russia first insisted that the new pipeline should pass through Russian territory, then declined to participate.cite news
publisher= Pravda
title = Moscow Negative About Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline
date= 2004-01-13
] A pipeline through Iran from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf is the shortest route from a geographic standpoint, but Iran was considered an undesirable partner for a number of reasons: its theocratic government, concerns about its nuclear program, and United States sanctions that restrict U.S. companies' investment in the country. [cite web
last=Warnock |first=John W.
title=Why Are Canadians Dying in Afghanistan? For Oil
date= 2006-11-16

In the spring of 1992, the Turkish Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel proposed to Central Asian countries and Azerbaijan, that the pipeline run through Turkey. The first document on the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was signed between Azerbaijan and Turkey on 9 March 1993 in Ankara.cite news
publisher= Turkish Daily News
title = Timeline of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline

The Turkish route meant a pipeline from Azerbaijan through either Georgia or Armenia. A route through Armenia was inconvenient, due to regional tensions over Turkey's refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocidecite news
publisher= Turkish Weekly
title = Armenia: A Neighbor from Hell?
] cite news
publisher= Eurasianet
title = Turkey Seeks to Carve Out Conflict Resolution Role in the Caucasus
] , as well as the unresolved military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. This left the circuitous Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey route as politically most expedient for the major parties, although it was longer and more expensive to build than the other options.

The BTC pipeline project gained momentum following the Ankara Declaration, adopted on 29 October 1998 by President of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev, President of Georgia Eduard Shevardnadze, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Turkey Süleyman Demirel, and President of Uzbekistan Islom Karimov. The declaration was witnessed by the United States Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, who expressed strong support for the BTC pipeline. The intergovernmental agreement in support of the BTC pipeline was signed by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey on 18 November 1999, during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul, Turkey.cite journal
publisher= The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program
author= Zeyno Baran
title = The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Turkey
journal= The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West


The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company (BTC Co.) began in London on 1 August 2002.cite web | publisher= Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections | title = Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company founded | url= | date = 2002-08-30 | accessdate=2007-12-30] The ceremony launching construction of the pipeline was held on 18 September 2002.cite web | publisher= BBC News | title = Caspian pipeline dream becomes reality | url= | date = 2002-09-17 | accessdate=2007-12-30] Construction began in April 2003 and was completed in 2005. The Azerbaijan section was constructed by Consolidated Contractors International of Greece, and Georgia's section was constructed by a joint venture of France’s Spie Capag and US Petrofac Petrofac International. The Turkish section was constructed by BOTAŞ. Bechtel was the main contractor for engineering, procurement and construction.


On 25 May 2005, the pipeline was inaugurated at the Sangachal Terminal by President Ilham Aliyev of the Azerbaijan Republic, President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia and President Ahmet Sezer of Turkey, joined by President Nursaltan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, as well as United States Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.cite web | publisher= BBC News | title = Giant Caspian oil pipeline opens | url= | date = 2005-05-25 | accessdate=2007-12-30] The inauguration of the Georgian section of the pipeline was hosted by President Mikheil Saakashvili at the BTC pumping station near Gardabani on 12 October 2005.cite web | publisher= RFERL | title = Georgia: Regional Leaders Inaugurate Oil Pipeline Amid Environmental Concerns | author=Jean-Christophe Peuch | url= | date = 2005-10-12 | accessdate=2007-12-30] The inauguration ceremony at the Ceyhan terminal was held on 13 July 2006.cite web | publisher= BP | title = BTC Celebrates Full Commissioning. Press Release | url= | date = 2006-07-13 | accessdate=2007-12-30]

Pumping began on May 10 2005 and reached Ceyhan in May 28 2006 after a journey of 1,770 km.cite web | publisher= BP | title = Operations of the BTC pipeline | url= | accessdate=2007-03-01] The first oil was loaded at the Cheyhan Marine Terminal (Haydar Aliyev Terminal) onto a ship named "British Hawthorn".cite web | publisher= Turkish Weekly | title = Caspian Oil Reaches Turkey's Mediterranean Port Ceyhan | url= | date = 2006-05-29 | accessdate=2007-03-01] The tanker sailed away from the port on 4 June 2006 with about convert|600000|oilbbl|m3 of crude oil.

Description of the pipeline


Baku-Supsa and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipelines through militarily-contested Georgia.
The pipeline starts at the Sangachal Terminal near Baku in Azerbaijan, crosses Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and terminates at the Ceyhan Marine Terminal (Haydar Aliyev Terminal) on the south-eastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. convert|443|km|mi|0 of the pipeline lie in Azerbaijan, convert|249|km|mi|0 in Georgia and convert|1076|km|mi|0 in Turkey. It crosses several mountain ranges at altitudes to convert|2830|m|ft|-2. It also traverses 3,000 roads, railways, and utility lines—both overground and underground—as well as 1,500 watercourses of up to convert|500|m|ft|-2 wide (in the case of the Ceyhan River in Turkey).Failed verification|date=September 2008 The pipeline occupies a corridor eight meters wide, and is buried along its entire length at a depth of no less than one meter.cite journal | publisher= The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program | author= Svante E. Cornell, Fariz Ismailzade | title = The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Azerbaijan | url= | journal= The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West | pages=61–84| format=PDF | date=2005 | accessdate=2007-12-30] The BTC pipeline runs parallel to the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, which transports natural gas from the Sangachal Terminal to Erzurum in Turkey.

Technical features

The pipeline has a projected lifespan of 40 years, and when working at normal capacity, it will transport 1 million barrels (160 000 m³) of oil per day. It has a capacity of convert|10|Moilbbl|m3 of oil, which will flow through the pipeline at convert|2|m|ft|1 per second. There are 8 pump stations through the pipeline route (2 in Azerbaijan, 2 in Georgia, 4 in Turkey). The project includes also the Ceyhan Marine Terminal, two intermediate pigging stations, one pressure reduction station, and 101 small block valves.cite web | publisher= BP | title = Overview of the BTC pipeline | url= | accessdate=2007-12-29] It was constructed from 150,000 individual joints of line pipe, each measuring convert|12|m|ft|0 in lengthfact|date=September 2008. This corresponds to a total weight of 655,000 short tons (594,000 metric tons).fact|date=September 2008 The pipeline is 1,070 mm (42 inches) diameter for most of its length, narrowing to 865 mm (34 inches) diameter as it nears Ceyhan.cite web | publisher= Dillinger Hütte GTS | title = Dillinger plates for the BTC pipeline, the world's longest oil export pipeline | url= | accessdate=2007-12-30]

Cost and financing

The pipeline cost US$3.9 billion.cite news | url=| title=BTC costs hit $3.9bn | publisher=Upstream Online | date=2006-04-19 |accessdate=2008-03-07] 15,000 people were employed during the construction of the pipelinefact|date=September 2008. 70% of BTC costs are being funded by third parties, including the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, export credit agencies of seven countries and a syndicate of 15 commercial banks.

ource of supply

The BTC pipeline is supplied by oil from Azerbaijan's Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian Sea via the Sangachal Terminal. This pipeline may also transport oil from the Kazakhstan's Kashagan oil field as well as from other oil fields in Central Asia.cite web
publisher= Kommersant
title = Revolutions in the Pipeline
] The government of Kazakhstan announced that it would build a trans-Caspian oil pipeline from the Kazakhstani port of Aktau to Baku and in turn to the BTC pipeline, but there is opposition to a Caspian offshore pipeline from both Russia and Iran. Kazakhstan has announced a new project named Kazakh-Caspian Transportation System, which is scheduled to come into operation in 2010. The project includes a pipeline from Iskene to the Caspian port of Kuryk, terminals in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, and construction of oil tankers.cite web
publisher= KOGIG UK
title = Kazakhstan Trans-Caspian Oil Transportation System
] The project is at the pre-feasibility stage.

Possible transhipment via Israel

It has been proposed that oil from the BTC pipeline be transported to eastern Asia via the Israeli oil terminals at Ashkelon and Eilat, the overland trans-Israel sector being bridged by the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline owned by the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company (EAPC).cite web | publisher= | title = Israel proposes crude pipeline from Georgia to Eastern Asia | author=Avi Bar-Eli | url= | date = 2008-01-17 | accessdate=2008-01-19] cite web | publisher= Turklish Weekly | title = Israeli Pipeline: Ashelon-Eilat-The Second Breath | author=Rovshan Ibrahimov | url= | date = 2007-04-09 | accessdate=2008-01-19]

hareholders of the pipeline

The pipeline is owned by a consortium of energy companies and BP (formerly British Petroleum), the operator of the pipeline. The shareholders of the consortium are:

*BP (United Kingdom): 30.1%
*State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) (Azerbaijan): 25.00%
*Chevron (USA): 8.90%
*StatoilHydro (Norway): 8.71%
*Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı (TPAO) (Turkey): 6.53%
*Eni/Agip (Italy): 5.00%
*Total (France): 5.0%
*Itochu (Japan): 3.4%
*Inpex (Japan): 2.50%
*ConocoPhillips (USA): 2.50%
*Hess Corporation (USA) 2.36%

Controversial aspects


Even before its completion, the BTC pipeline was affecting the world's oil politics. The South Caucasus, previously seen as Russia's backyard, is now a region of great strategic significance. The U.S. and other Western nations have become much more involved in the affairs of the three nations through which oil will flow. Some have criticized this degree of western involvement in the South Caucasus, arguing that it has led to an unhealthy dependence on undemocratic leaders.Fact|date=December 2007 The countries have been trying to use the involvement as a counterbalance to Russian and Iranian economic and military dominance in the region. Russian specialists claim that the pipeline will weaken the Russian influence in the Caucasus. The Russian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev stated that the United States and other Western countries are planning to station soldiers in the Caucasus on the pretext of instability in regions through which the pipeline passes.cite web
publisher= Axis Information and Analysis
author= Can Karpat
title = Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan: Pipeline of Friendship or War?
date = 2005-09-15

The project also constitutes an important leg of the East-West energy corridor, gaining Turkey greater geopolitical importance. The BTC pipeline also supports Georgia's independence from Russian influence. Former President Eduard Shevardnadze, one of the architects and initiators of the project, saw the construction of the pipeline through Georgian territory as a guarantee for the country's future economic and political security and stability. President Mikhail Saakashvili shares this view. "All strategic contracts in Georgia, especially the contract for the Caspian pipeline are a matter of survival for the Georgian state," he told reporters on 26 November 2003.cite news
publisher= Seattle Times
title = Georgia's Saakashvili backs oil-pipeline plan
date = 2003-11-27
accessdate = 2008-08-12


Although some have touted the BTC pipeline as easing the dependence of the US and other Western nations on oil from the Middle East, it supplies only 1% of global demand during its first stage.cite news
publisher= Daily Mail Online
title= The Pipeline War: Russian bear goes for West's jugular
date= 2008-08-10
accessdate= 2008-08-24

The pipeline diversifies the global oil supply and so ensures, to an extent, against a failure in supply elsewhere. Critics of the pipeline—particularly Russia—are skeptical about its economic prospects.cite news
publisher= RIA Novosti
title = Russia skeptical about Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline
date = 2005-06-02

Construction of the BTC pipeline has contributed to the economies of the host countries. In the first half of 2007, a year after the completion and launch of BTC pipeline as the main export route for Azerbaijani oil, the real GDP growth of Azerbaijan hit a record of 35%.cite web
publisher= International Monetary Fund
title = Republic of Azerbaijan — Concluding Statement of the IMF Mission
date = 2007-09-06
] Substantial transit fees accrue to Georgia and Turkey. For Georgia the transit fees are expected to produce an average of US$62.5 million per year.cite journal
publisher= The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program
author= Vladimer Papava
title = The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Implications for Georgia
journal= The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West
] Turkey is expected to receive approximately US$200 million in transit fees per year in the initial years of operation, with the possibility of increasing to US$290 million per year from year 17 to year 40. Turkey also benefits from an increase in economic activity in eastern Anatolia, including increased importance of the port of Ceyhan, which had experienced significant reductions of activities since the 1991 Gulf War. The reduction of oil tanker traffic on the Bosphorus will contribute to greater security for Istanbul.cite news
publisher= Today's Zaman
title = Loading of Azeri Crude Oil from BTC Pipeline Begins
date = 2006-06-03

To counter concerns that oil money would be siphoned off by corrupt officials, Azerbaijan has set up a State oil fund (State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan, or SOFAZ), mandated with using natural-resource revenue to benefit future generations, to bolster support from key international lenders and improve transparency and accountability. SOFAZ is audited by Deloitte and Touche. Additionally, Azerbaijan became the first oil producing country in the world to join EITI — the British-led Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.


Concerns have also been addressed about the security of the BTC pipeline.cite news
publisher= The Guardian
author= Nick Paton Walsh
title = Russia accused of plot to sabotage Georgian oil pipeline
date = 2003-12-01
] cite web
publisher= Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
author= Gal Luft
title = Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline: not yet finished and already threatened
date = 2004-11-04
] It bypasses Armenia; Azerbaijan is still at war with Armenia over the status of the Armenian-populated separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan), crosses through Georgia (which has two unresolved separatist conflicts) and goes through the edges of the Kurdish region of Turkey (which has seen a prolonged and bitter conflict with separatists). It will require constant guarding to prevent sabotage, though the fact that almost all of the pipeline is buried will make it harder to attack.

On 6 August 2008, a major explosion and fire in eastern Turkey Erzincan Province closed the pipeline. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed responsibility for the attack.cite news
publisher= APA
title = PKK assumes responsibility for explosion of BTC
date = 2008-08-06
] The pipeline was restarted on 25 August 2008.cite news
publisher= Bloomberg
title = Oil Falls for a Second Day as BP Restarts Caspian Sea Pipeline
date = 2008-08-25

On August 21, Turkish business daily, Referans, quoted an unnamed Kazakhstan official, who said Kazakhstan was considering not supplying the BTC with oil due to "security concerns" [cite web
publisher= Hürriyet
title = Kazakhstan considers to divert oil export route from BTC to Russia
date = 2008-08-21
] On August 26, Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Yerzhan Ashikbayev said Kazakhstan has no plans to end its participation in the BTC [cite web
publisher= Turkish Daily News
title = Kazakhstan won't withdraw from BTC
date = 2008-08-27
] .


Critics of the pipeline have pointed out that the pipeline travels through three active earthquake faults in Azerbaijan, four in Georgia and seven in Turkey. The pipeline's engineers have equipped it with a number of technical solutions to reduce its vulnerability to earth movements.

The pipeline crosses the watershed of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park in Georgia (albeit not entering the park territory), an area known for its mineral water springs and natural beauty.cite web | publisher= The Guardian | author= Michael Meacher | title = Casualties of the oil stampede | url=,3604,1506665,00.html#article_continue | date = 2005-06-15 | accessdate=2007-12-30] This has long been the subject of fierce opposition by environmental activists. The pipeline's construction left a highly visible scar across the landscape. The Oxford-based "Baku Ceyhan Campaign" averred that "public money should not be used to subsidize social and environmental problems, purely in the interests of the private sector, but must be conditional on a positive contribution to the economic and social development of people in the region."Fact|date=December 2007 As the Borjomi mineral water is a major export commodity of Georgia, any oil spills there would have a catastrophic effect on the viability of the local water bottling industry.

The field joint coating of the pipeline has also been controversial as there were shortcomings in tests of the sealant used, SPC 2888.cite web | publisher= Times Online | author= Michael Gillard; David Connett | title = BP 'covered up' pipeline flaw | url= | date = 2005-04-17 | accessdate=2007-12-29] BP and its contractors interrupted work until the problem was eliminated.cite journal | publisher= The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program | author= Jonathan Elkind | title = Economic Implications of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline | url= | journal= The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West | pages=39–60| format=PDF | date=2005 | accessdate=2007-12-30]

The BTC pipeline eliminates 350 tanker cargoes per year through the sensitive congested Bosphorus and Dardanelles.

Human rights

Human rights activists criticized Western governments for the pipeline, due to reported human and civil rights abuses by the Aliyev regime.cite web | publisher= Human Right Watch | title = Human Rights Overview - Azerbaijan | url= | accessdate=2007-12-30] A Czech documentary film "Zdroj" ("Source") underscores these human rights abuses, such as eminent domain violations in appropriating land for the pipeline's route, and criticism of the government leading to arrest.cite web | publisher= Variety | author= Eddie Cockrell | title = Source. A review | url= | date = 2005-07-18 | accessdate=2007-12-29] The project was also criticized by the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

In fiction

The BTC pipeline has been featured (in fictional form) in popular culture: it was a central plot point in the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough" (1999). One of the film's central characters, Elektra King, is responsible for the construction of an oil pipeline through the Caucasus, from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Named the "King pipeline" in the film, it is a thinly disguised version of the BTC.cite web | publisher= The Guardian | author= Mark Tran | title = Q&A: The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline | url= | date = 2005-05-26 | accessdate=2007-12-30]

ee also

*Economy of Azerbaijan
*Foreign relations of Azerbaijan
*Foreign relations of Georgia
*Foreign relations of Turkey
*Geostrategy in Central Asia
*Petroleum politics
*Dutch disease
*Baku-Supsa Pipeline
*Baku-Novorossiysk Pipeline



*cite book | publisher= l’Harmattan | author = Turab Gurbanov | title = Le pétrole de la Caspienne et la politique extérieure de l'Azerbaïdjan : tome 1- Questions économiques et juridiques | pages=304 | isbn=978-2-296-04019-9 | date=2007
*cite book | publisher= l’Harmattan | author = Turab Gurbanov | title = Le pétrole de la Caspienne et la politique extérieure de l'Azerbaïdjan : tome 2- Questions géopolitiques | pages=297 | isbn=978-2-296-04020-5 | date=2007
*cite book | publisher= The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, Silk Road Studies Program | author = S. Frederick Starr, Svante E. Cornell | title = The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Oil Window to the West | url= | pages=150 | format=PDF | isbn=91-85031-06-2 | date=2005 | accessdate=2007-12-30

External links

* [ Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline (BP website)]
* [ BTC project (IFC website)]
* [ BTC project (EBRD website)]
* [ Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Caspian Pipeline] , ""
*cite web | publisher= The Washington Institute for Near East Policy | author=Soner Cagaptay, Nazli Gencsoy | title = Startup of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline: Turkey's Energy Role. Policy Watch #998 | url= | date=2005-05-27 | accessdate=2007-12-30
* [ Engineering the BTC Pipeline] , the former head of BP, Lord Browne FREng, reflects on the engineering challenges of constructing the BTC pipeline, "Ingenia" magazine, June 2008

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