Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be with you today to mark the loading of first oil into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.
This extraordinary project will deliver oil from the Caspian Sea through Georgia to the Turkish Mediterranean coast in Ceyhan 1,760 kilometers away.
This project is remarkable in many different ways, not the least of which has been its technical and financial complexity. Building this pipeline also required a regional consensus, complex environmental analyses, and a lengthy and productive dialogue with all of the communities along the entire route.
By any definition, today’s event is a remarkable accomplishment for the governments and people of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia … and for the consortium of private companies – led by BP and joined by American companies Unocal and Hess – that worked to make this dream a reality.
And now I would like to read a letter to President Aliyev from President Bush:
Dear Mr. President:
Congratulations to the people of Azerbaijan and to you on the occasion of first oil entering the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Azerbaijan’s friends in the United States, Europe and beyond celebrate this monumental achievement with you.
BTC opens a new era in the Caspian Basin’s development. It ensures Caspian oil will reach European and other markets in a commercially viable and environmentally sound way. BTC also deepens the integration of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey into the global economy. We welcome the emerging partnership with Kazakhstan in this energy corridor, and hope companies producing oil there and elsewhere in the Caspian region will embrace BTC as a gateway to global markets.
Azerbaijan has provided visionary leadership since the signing of the “Contract of the Century” a little over a decade ago. That decision to open the Azeri-Chiran-Guneshli oil fields to international development was a bold step by a newly independent Azerbaijan toward a hopeful future in the midst of regional troubles. Together with determined Turkish and Georgian leadership, and in partnership with private investors, Azerbaijan has created a world-class project. As Azerbaijan deepens its democratic and market economic reforms, this pipeline can help generate balanced economic growth, and provide a foundation for a prosperous and just society that advances the cause of freedom.
The United States has consistently supported BTC because we believe in the project’s ability to bolster global energy security, strengthen participating countries’ energy diversity, enhance regional cooperation, and expand international investment opportunities. We look forward to working closely with the people of Azerbaijan to advance prosperity, justice, and peace.
George W. Bush
I also want to remember the contribution of former President Heydar Aliyev to this project. He was the one stakeholder in the project who never wavered in his support for an East-West oil and gas export corridor.
Without his firm commitment, I doubt we would all be here today opening the valves to begin the flow of oil from the Caspian through Georgia and Turkey and ultimately to the Mediterranean.
This is an important moment in the history of Azerbaijan and of this region, and I am very pleased to be here to extend the congratulations of the United States to all those who made this project possible.
Anne Womack Kolton, 202/586-4940
Drew Malcomb, 202/586-5806