ECONOMY

Hindrances to building pipeline are overcome

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey and BP said yesterday they had addressed land and tax problems that stood in the way of the construction of the $3 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to carry Caspian crude to world markets. Project leader BP’s Michael Townshend said he had discussed issues of taxation and the compulsory purchase of land for the pipeline with Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Guler. «We raised those concerns with the minister and he has taken strong action to solve the problems,» Townshend told a joint news conference with Guler in Ankara. «Now we share the view that… the pipeline project is on track,» he added. He said the pipeline, running 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) from Azerbaijan to the Turkish Mediterranean coast, would be completed by the end of 2004. Pumping would start at 300,000 barrels per day in 2005, rising gradually to 800,000 barrels a day by 2008, compared to a pipeline capacity of 1 million barrels a day, he said. The project was proposed by Turkey in the early 1990s to bypass its busy Bosporus strait, the only outlet at present for Russian and other oil. It would also earn Ankara valuable transit revenues for its frail economy and raise Turkey’s strategic importance in the region. The project has received strong support from the USA, but it has long been criticized by oil companies for being non-commercial.