ANKARA - The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, which is considered one of the most important projects of the 21st century, will be officially inaugurated tomorrow.
Besides ministers from 32 countries, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, President Mikhail Saakashvili of Georgia, Prime Minister Ferdi Sabit Soyer of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will be in attendance at the inauguration ceremony which will be hosted by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The guests have started arriving in Istanbul today.
Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will host a dinner at Istanbul's Ciragan Palace tonight in honor of the guests. Tomorrow, heads of state and government and the other officials will proceed to Ceyhan town of the southern city of Adana for the inauguration ceremony which will start at 12.30 p.m.
Tight security measures will be in place in Ceyhan and Adana. Also, the Adana-Ceyhan highway will temporarily be closed to road traffic.
The inauguration will be the biggest organization in the history of Turkey and is expected to cost about 3-3.5 million USD.
The BTC pipeline, long 1,760 km, will transport crude oil from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfield in the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. It passes through Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan; Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia; and Ceyhan, a port on the southeastern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. It is the second longest oil pipeline in the world (the longest being the Druzhba pipeline from Russia to central Europe).
Construction of the pipeline started September 2002. It was constructed from 150,000 individual joints of line pipe, each measuring 12 m in length.
The route of the pipeline crosses Azerbaijan to pass through Georgia and Turkey. Of its total length of 1,760 km, 440 km lies in Azerbaijan, 244.5 km in Georgia and 1,070 km in Turkey.
Its structure includes 8 pumping stations, 2 intermediate pigging stations and 101 block valve stations.
The pipeline has a daily capacity of 1 million barrels. It was commissioned by a consortium of energy companies led by BP (formerly British Petroleum), which has a 30.1 percent stake and is the operator of the pipeline. The other members of the consortium are: State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR): 25.00 percent; Unocal (USA): 8.90 percent; Statoil (Norway): 8.71 percent; Turkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortakligi (TPAO) (Turkey): 6.53 percent; Eni/Agip (Italy): 5.00 percent; Total (France): 5.0 percent; Itochu (Japan): 3.4 percent; Inpex (Japan): 2.50 percent; ConocoPhillips (USA): 2.50 percent and Amerada Hess (USA) 2.36 percent. The first oil pumped from Azerbaijan reached Ceyhan on May 28th.
After the pipeline becomes operative, 8 percent of commercial oil in the world will transit from Turkey and Turkey will earn an annual income of nearly 300 million USD.
The pipeline will make Ceyhan an important center for the international oil market, and contribute to environmental safety of the Istanbul Strait by easing the traffic in the strait.
Meanwhile, an agreement was signed by Azerbaijani and Kazakh presidents on June 16th for the inclusion of Kazakhstan in the project.