(Reuters) - The first cargo of Azeri crude to be loaded from the giant pipeline to Ceyhan in Turkey will probably now not be until the first quarter of next year, the head of BP-Azerbaijan said, Trend reports with a reference to Reuters
"It's taking a bit longer than we anticipated. The fourth quarter is looking, I think, increasingly challenging. I think it may actually be the first quarter of next year," David Woodward told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday.
The oil major had planned to load the first cargo in early 2005 but has repeatedly postponed it due to construction delays in Turkey, floods and longer-than-anticipated talks with landowners on the pipeline route.
If the first cargo is postponed to the first quarter of 2006, the project will be effectively a year behind schedule.
BP leads both the Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline project and the three Azeri fields that will supply it with oil to take to Western markets.
"We're currently producing from Central Azeri and Chirag some 370,000 barrels per day and continuing to build up as we complete wells," Woodward said.
"We're expecting the West Azeri platform to come on stream early next year and that will increase the production build-up. We'll be heading towards the 500,000 bpd rate by the end of the year 2006."
He said BP would continue to use the pipeline route to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa, putting through about 140,000 bpd.
"So the balance of our ACG (Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli) production, which is building up to 350,000 barrels a day or something of that order by the end of next year, will be going through BTC."