ECONOMY

Baku-Ceyhan pipeline

TBILISI (Reuters) – Construction work on a Georgian section of the huge BP-led Baku-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline will restart within a week after a delay for environmental checks, Georgia’s natural resources minister said yesterday. The checks halted work on a small stretch of the pipeline last week, but BP said the stoppage would not affect the date for first tanker loadings at the end of the second quarter next year. «Work is ongoing with BP and we are certain that work in this zone will resume within a week,» Resources Minister Tamara Lebanidze told reporters. The pipeline is 70 percent complete and due to be finished in January. It will deliver oil from the BP-operated Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfields in the Caspian Sea to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Georgia halted work after saying it was worried some agreements to limit the environmental impact of the project had not been adhered to. Besides BP, Baku-Ceyhan participants include Norway’s Statoil, Azeri state oil company SOCAR, US Unocal and Japan’s Itochu. Oil majors developing oil fields in Kazakhstan, on the other side of the Caspian Sea, also hope to use the link in future. The Kazakh oil would be shipped by French oil giant Total, US oil company ConocoPhillips, Italian major ENI and Japan’s unlisted Inpex, none of which have oil projects in Azerbaijan. The four firms agreed last year to join the BTC with a view to securing additional export routes from Kazakhstan’s huge Kashagan field, expected to produce its first oil by the end of this decade.