ECONOMY

Ceyhan first loading delay

BAKU (Reuters) – Oil major BP further delayed yesterday the loading of the first cargo of Azeri crude from the Turkish port of Ceyhan to the fourth quarter of 2005 from a previous plan for the early second half of this year. The head of BP-Azerbaijan, David Woodward, said the BP-led group would fill the Azeri section of the pipeline with crude in May, while the third quarter would be spent filling the Georgian and Turkish stretches of the link. The first cargo date has been slowly slipping quarter by quarter over the past few years from the initial plan of the first shipment from the Mediterranean port in early 2005. BP and its partners in the project say small delays are not unusual for projects of such a scale as Baku-Ceyhan, which runs 1,760 kilometers (1,100 miles) and cost $4 billion. Baku-Ceyhan will help oil from the landlocked Caspian Sea bypass for the first time in history both Russia and the notoriously crowded Turkish Black Sea straits en route to international markets. Most of the line’s oil will come from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfields off Azerbaijan’s Caspian shore. Chirag is already online, pumping around 130,000 bpd of crude, which BP ships by pipeline to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa and from last month to Russia’s Novorossiysk. The second field, Azeri, produced its first commercial oil on February 13 and will pump 93,000 bpd this year. The deepwater Guneshli field is expected to begin production in 2008.