BP indicates interest in cross-Turkey pipeline

ISTANBUL – BP Plc would consider exporting its Russian venture’s oil via a planned pipeline from Turkey’s Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean if the project comes to fruition, the head of the company’s Turkish unit said. Turkey sees a pipeline carrying Russian crude from Samsun to Ceyhan as a way of relieving congestion in the Bosporus strait, which runs through the country’s largest city Istanbul and is the only outlet for Russian oil. «There are really very attractive sides to the Samsun-Ceyhan project… It is one of the projects in which we are interested. We are not saying ‘Let’s build it,’ but in terms of usage it interests us,» BP Turkey President Tahir Uysal told Reuters in an interview. He said the company’s Russian venture TNK-BP could potentially send exports through the pipeline which would have a capacity of 1-1.4 million barrels per day, cost some $1 billion and stretch over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles). Italy’s Eni and Turkey’s Calik Group presented a feasibility summary on the Samsun-Ceyhan project to the Energy Ministry in November. However the project is on hold after several ministers refused to sign a related decree because the project was to be awarded to a company without a tender being held. BP, the world’s second-largest listed oil firm by market value, leads the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project between Azerbaijan and the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan which is set to go on stream in the first half of this year. Analysts say that in addition to this pipeline, the Samsun-Ceyhan project is needed to reduce the annual flow of oil through Istanbul’s Bosporus strait. Uysal also said that work had been completed on oil drilling at a well in the eastern Black Sea off the coast of Hopa, which BP is carrying out together with Turkey’s TPAO and US company Chevron. «It will take three to six months for us to assess the data from the well on which drilling has been completed. We will then decide what to do,» he said, adding that it was too early to comment on the amount of potential reserves in the well. The drilling work had cost more than $100 million, he said. Separately, Uysal called on the new owners of Turkish refiner Tupras, the only one in Turkey, to offer lower prices to its stable and large volume customers, saying this would be reflected in lower prices in petrol stations. «We expect positive changes from the new Tupras management,» he said. A consortium led by Koc Holding and including Royal Dutch Shell made the winning $4.14 billion bid for a 51 percent stake in Tupras last year, but the country’s top administrative court has suspended the sale after a union challenge.