The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which will carry 50 million tons of petrol a year, was officially opened at a ceremony attended by President of the Turkish Republic, Ahmet Necdet Sezer. The presidents of Azerbayjian, Georgia, and Khazakistan also attended the ceremony. It is estimated that Turkey will receive 7.5 billion dollars over the next 40 years in transportation fees.
The ceremony yesterday took place at Sangachal Terminal, about 60 kilometers outside of Baku. US Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman, as well as the Chief Executive of British Petroleum (BP), Lord John Browne, were also in attendance. With the capacity to take on one million tons of petrol in a day, 50 million tons are expected to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline per year. It is expected that the petrol will reach Ceyhan somewhere around the end of the year. Over the 40 year agreement it has signed, Turkey will receive, in transportation fees alone, 200 million dollars a year, with a projected 40 year profit of 7.5 billion dollars.
Aliyev: No one could turn us back from this day
President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbayjian called it "a historic day" when the valve was turned to let the petrol flow through for the first time. He said that despite fierce opposition from some quarters, "no one had been able to turn us back from this. The pipeline has brought us great chance. Since deciding to go ahead with it, there have been great economic developments in Azerbayjian. Foreign investments in the range of a billion dollars have come in."
Georgian and Khazaki presidents express their support
Georgian President Mihail Shaakashvili said for his part that Georgia was pleased to be on the route of the pipeline. Khazakistan President Nur Sultan Nazarbayev said that his country had increased its petrol production, and that they wanted to sell it to the world.
Bush send congratulations to Aliyev
US Secretary of Energy Bodman read a letter written by US President George Bush to Azeri President Aliyev. In it, Bush said that by reaching international markets with their petrol, Azerbayjian had brought hope to their future, and that they had become a new and independent country.
Most important development in energy in last 100 years
Chief Executive of the BP Consortium, Lord John Browne, said that the opening of the BTC pipeline was the most important development in the area of energy in the last 100 years. He noted that despite naysayers, the pipeline had gone ahead, and was an example of an intiative between regional governments and the private sector.