Eight international oil companies signed an accord to proceed with a proposal to build new $2.8 billion oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey.
A final decision to build the line will not be taken for another 18 months. This frame agreement covers a route from Baku through Georgia to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean coast.
The 1,786-km / 1,116-mile, 42-inch diameter pipeline would be capable of carrying about one million barrels of oil per day - making it the most important oil export route from Azerbaijan.
The signatory companies - BP Amoco, Unocal, Turkish oil company TPAO, Delta Hess, Itochu, Ramco Energy and Socar - become parties to earlier-ratified agreements covering transit across Azerbaijan as well as treaties regulating the line's route through Georgia and Turkey.
Similar deals are due to be signed by the eight partners with Azerbaijan and Turkey within the next few days.
The pipeline accord will allow planning to continue for the first development phase of the Caspian Sea's Azeri-Chirag field, which will have an initial production capacity of 400,000 b/d of crude. Azeri-Chirag is scheduled to come on stream in late 2004 or early 2005.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)