A victory for Western designs on Capsian oil 20 years in the making, this heightens the regional contradictions in several ways. It places greater pressure on Turkey to crush the Kurdish PKK insurgents who are making trouble in precisely that section of Eastern Anatolia traversed by the pipeline. It places greater pressure on Russia to finally get Chechnya and the North Caucasus under control so a new Moscow-controlled alternative route can be built. And it places greater pressure on both Moscow and Washington to reshape the order in Central Asia in their favor before the next arm is built—across the Caspian Sea itself, incorprating the gas and oil fields of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan . Will that arm connect to the Baku-Ceyhan line, or to an alternate Russian-controlled route? From Turkey’s Zaman, May 27:
First Loading of Azeri Oil to Tanker Takes Place Today
Caspian oil pumped through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline has reached the Mediterranean Turkish port of Ceyhan, and the first loading of Azeri oil to tankers will take place today.
The British Hawthame tanker will dock at the Ceyhan terminal to load the Azeri oil.
There will be no an inauguration ceremony to mark the transfer of the crude oil to oil tankers today, but the presidents of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan, the three countries the BTC passes through, are to meet on July 13th in Ceyhan for official ceremony.
The Azeri oil in the pipeline covered 1,076 km of its total voyage in Turkey. The long awaited Azeri oil has arrived at the Ceyhan marine terminal on the Mediterranean coast last week after a year of delay and re-scheduling.
The 1,760 km-pipeline had originally been scheduled for opening in the second half of 2005. However, construction of the Turkish section of the pipeline was not completed on time, causing oil export from the terminal to be delayed.
The first crude oil was pumped from the Azeri capital Baku on May 10, 2005 and arrived at the Turkish border on November 17, 2005.
Turkey will gain annual $300 million from the pipeline which will transport daily 1 million barrel oil.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) project is a $3 billion investment to unlock a vast store of energy from the Caspian Sea by providing a new crude oil pipeline from Azerbaijan, through Georgia, to Turkey for onward delivery to world markets.
The BTC pipeline runs from the Azeri capital Baku, passes by the Georgian capital Tbilisi and reaches its destination at the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
The pipeline is expected to reduce tanker traffic through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.
See our last post on the Caucasus and our last report on the trans-Caucasus pipeline project.