Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline

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Described by Baker Hughes as 'one of the world's major projects' and even referred to as the 'pipeline of the century',[1] the BTC pipeline became operative in 2005. It is 1,768km long and crosses the territories of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, transporting oil produced from the Caspian Sea to the terminal of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea. The Sangachal Terminal is the starting point for the pipeline on the Caspian Sea.[2]


Geopolitical Significance

Commenting on the geopolitical implications of the project and its role in the Southern Corridor oil and gas transport route to Europe, Georgian Ambassador to Turkey Grigol Mgaloblishvili said that “this project marks the beginning of a new era in the region that precludes the possibility of anyone monopolising transit routes for Caspian energy resources. Diversification of transporting Caspian hydrocarbons to the world market is the greatest achievement.”[1]

The UK government referred to the pipeline as 'the linchpin of renewed interest in Azerbaijani energy'.[3] The US government also backed the pipeline because it avoided transit through Russia, reducing the dependence of the Caucasus and Central Asia on Russian pipelines, and also because it presented an opportunity to bolster regional economies being 'courted' by the West, such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, in order to build support for the US in the region.[4]


The BTC pipeline throughput capacity is one million barrels of oil per day (bpd), [5]or 1.5 percent of total global consumption.[1]

However according to Minister of Industry and Energy Natik Aliyev in 2010, it is planned that throughput will increase to 1.4 million bpd, given the plans to produce more hydrocarbons both in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan (see Trans-Caspian Pipeline).[6]


The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Company was formed to construct, own and operate the pipeline in 2002. As of 2012 there were 11 shareholders in the BP-managed company, including BP (30.1%), AzBTC (25%), Chevron (8.9%), Statoil (8.71%), TPAO (6.53%), Eni (5%), Total (5%), Itochu (3.4%), INPEX (2.5%), ConocoPhillips (2.5%), and Hess (2.36%). [1] On completion in 2005 the pipeline project had cost US$4 billion.[4]

A 2005 report by Human Rights Watch criticized the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which committed US$125 billion for the BTC pipeline with no conditions attached regarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "From the sea to the coast: the Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan Pipeline " Pipelines International, June 2012.
  2. "Azerbaijan" Baker McKenzie, June 2012.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Caspian Basin, Energy Reserves and Potential Conflicts" House of Commons Research Library, 16 March 2005.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Where business meets geopolitics" Economist, June 2012.
  5. "Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline" BP Caspian', retrieved 23 August 2012.
  6. "BTC pipeline throughput increasing in 2011" Oil and Gas Journal, 6 April 2010.