ANKARA – Turkey is planning a $10 billion (8.5-billion-euro) project to build an oil refinery, an LNG terminal and a petrochemicals plant at the port of Ceyhan on its Mediterranean coast, an energy official told Reuters yesterday. Turkey wants to promote Ceyhan as a hub for regional oil and gas trade, partly as a way to avoid crowding in the narrow, congested Bosporus strait and the passage through Istanbul, the only outlet for Russian and Caspian oil output. Ceyhan is already the terminus of a 1.5-million-barrels-per-day (bpd) pipeline and a terminal for Iraqi crude. Another line with a 1-million-bpd capacity from Baku on the Caspian through Tbilisi will come on stream in early 2006. The terms of the project will be announced by the end of the year, the energy official said. «The government has started talks with leading international energy companies to build the project,» said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. «A total investment value of $10 billion has been calculated for the three plants,» he said. The plan is likely to be discussed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan when they inaugurate a gas pipeline from Russia in the Black Sea town of Samsun next Thursday, he said. Italian energy company ENI said on Wednesday it and Turkish company Calik would evaluate an oil pipeline project, linking Samsun to Ceyhan to carry «over 1 million barrels per day.» But Russia has so far favored a line that will link the Black Sea port of Burgas to the Aegean port of Alexandroupolis through Bulgaria and Greece. «A total of nearly 200 million tons of oil a year (4 million bpd) will converge at Ceyhan from Iraq, Caspian as well as Russia through the proposed Samsun-Ceyhan line,» the official said, adding the Samsun-Ceyhan line might carry 1.4 million bpd. Russian and Italian energy companies expressed interest in the Ceyhan project, the official said without naming any company. Turkish energy officials said earlier this week Russia also wanted to take part in a project by Turkey’s gas and oil pipeline concern Botas to build a gas storage facility under the Tuz Golu (Salt Lake), near the capital Ankara. «The three leaders will also discuss some other projects that are of interest to their countries,» said the official, without giving further details. Oil analysts said the construction of a refinery at Ceyhan would be timely given the tightness of refinery capacity in Europe. But it was not clear when the refinery could be operational.