|Kazakhstan is considering pumping its oil through Russia as an alternative to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline due to increased security concerns over the clashes in the Caucasus, a Turkish daily reported on Thursday.
A high level Kazakh official told Turkish business daily Referans that question marks now hang over the security of the BTC pipeline. "We could reconsider our decisions on sending Kazak oil to the world market. Changing the (export) route is in our agenda now," the official was quoted as saying by Referans.
The export of Kazakh oil through BTC had started in May and efforts are underway to supply the line from the larger Kashagan fields. Kazakh oil is seen as the key in plans to expand the BTC.
An official with the Turkish Energy Ministry said the expansion of the BTC line would only be possible with the supply of Kazakh oil. "There is some 50 million tons of oil there and it is unknown how this will be transported to world markets," the official told Referans.
When it reaches peak production in around 2019, Kashagan will produce up to 1.5 million barrels per day, enabling Kazakhstan to roughly double oil export volume to 120 million tons annually.
The BTC, led by BP, opened in 2006 and can pump up to one million barrels a day of Azeri crude to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, and is the first pipeline to carry large volumes of Caspian oil by-passing Russia.
A new 730-kilometer pipeline running from Kazakhstan's Eskene region to Kuruk is planned to be constructed, and oil will be transported from the Kuruk port to Baku via tanker. Once Kashagan oil is pumped into the BTC through Baku, the amount of oil arriving in Ceyhan is expected to rise to 75 million tons a year, up 50 percent from the current 50 million.