BTC returns to exceed $1 bln

( Todayszaman ))The Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), which carries Caspian Sea oil to the world markets via the Haydar Aliyev seaport in Ceyhan , has transported more than 200 million barrels since the pipeline launched in June 2006.

Salih Pasaoglu , general manager of BOTAS International Limited (BIL) -- the operator of the pipeline's Turkey section, established by the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Company (BOTAS) -- said that it has already produced total returns of more than $900 million. He added that they were expecting the returns from the pipeline to exceed $1 billion by the end of the year, the Anatolia news agency reported. Pasaoglu said they had increased oil transport to full capacity -- 1 million barrels per day -- recently, but that it was not always possible to work at full capacity. There will be some changes in 2008 to increase capacity to 1.2 million barrels per day and upgrade the pipeline for around-the-clock full-capacity usage.

He said they will add a chemical substance called DRA which reduces friction and allows for more oil to be pumped with the same pumps. "A capacity increase will be easy and will increase our profit. We are in the test phase and will launch in 2008," he said. Additional capacity increases will only be possible with new pumps and not before 2011.

Commenting on security issues, Pasaoglu said they, as BIL, were responsible for the security of the pipeline in Turkey. He said the safety of the oil transport was crucial and they contracted the first 50 kilometer part in Ceyhan to a private security company. Pasaoglu added they were getting ready to launch bids for the remaining parts of the pipeline. For high-level security Pasaoglu noted that there were continuous patrols, night-vision cameras and also sound-sensitive fibers to guard against pipe perforation. Helicopter patrols will also be utilized. Pasaoglu said the pipeline had been drilled 20 times by unknown individuals and the 21st time was captured before he could even begin drilling. He emphasized the leakage mainly happened in the Ceyhan region. "The safety of pipelines is more important than the safety of the oil in it. We halt oil transportation during repair. It is not important if it lasts for a few hours but it causes big problems if it extends over a day or over several days," he said.

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