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    Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline back to normal operations, BP says

    Hurriyet English with wires
    25.08.2008 - 11:38 | Son Güncelleme:

    A major fire-damaged oil pipeline carrying crude from Azerbaijan to Turkey has returned to normal operations, BP's spokesperson in Baku said on Monday. The first cargo would be lifted on Tuesday. (UPDATED)

    "We ramped up the flow over the weekend, and we're still ramping now but effectively we're back to normal operations," said Tamam Bayatlı, the spokesperson of BP, which operates the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline.

     

    Bayatli also confirmed that the Baku-Supsa pipeline remained closed as a  "precaution" given the security situation in Georgia but that the situation  was under constant assessment and the pipeline could be reopened as soon as it was deemed safe to do so, but was unable to confirm whether any oil was being exported via the rail route across Georgia.  

     

    A spokesman for BTC pipeline operator in Turkey, the state pipeline company Botas, confirmed that the line was now working normally and that the first cargo would be lifted on Tuesday. "It will take about a week to fill the tanks down at Ceyhan, after which we'll be back to fully normal operations," he said.  

     

    The BTC, the world's second-longest pipeline at 1,774 kilometers (1,109 miles), was inaugurated in 2006 and carries Azeri oil from the Caspian Sea fields to Ceyhan. It can transport 1.2 million barrels of crude per day.

     

    It was shut on Aug. 5 after a blast in a pump at a section in eastern Turkey sparked a fire. The terror organization, PKK, claimed responsibility for the blast, though Turkish officials said they found no indication of foul play.

     

    BP has said previously that the oil link, which brings the equivalent of more than 1 percent of world supply from fields in the Azeri part of the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan in Turkey, would be reopened this week.

     

    The conduit faced further risks when tensions in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia escalated into a full-blown military conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi this month.

     

    The closure of the pipeline caused members of the BTC consortium to declare force majeure on exports from Ceyhan, freeing them from contractual obligations.

     

    London-based BP owns 30.1 percent of BTC, while Azeri state energy firm Socar holds 25 percent. Other shareholders include U.S. oil companies Chevron and ConocoPhillips, Norway's StatoilHydro, Italy's ENI and France's Total.

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