The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, operational since 2005, is depicted in green, along with the gas pipeline Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum (BTE, or South Caucasus Pipeline) depicted in brown, which was laid next to it, from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Both pipelines are buried underground for extra protection.

Other existing and proposed pipelines are outlined in red, blue, and brown. Blue represents the Baku-Novorossiysk (Russia) pipeline, which was a Soviet-era oil pipeline refurbished and operational since 1997. Red stands for the Baku-Supsa (Georgia) pipeline, the first Azerbaijani oil export pipeline built in the independence period, operational since 1999. Dotted brown on the right is for the proposed Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, to transport Turkmen and potentially Kazakh and Uzbek gas to Europe via BTE and other pipelines. Dotted brown on the left is for the- proposed Trans-Anatolian (formerly Nabucco) pipeline from Erzerum (Turkey) to transport Azerbaijani, and later Turkmen and others’, natural gas to Europe.

Courtesy Thomas Bloomberg

"Contract of the Century"

In September 1994, President Heydar Aliyev signed a multi-billion-dollar agreement dubbed the ”Contract of the Century” with several international oil companies, forming the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC). The conglomerate, which now includes BP (UK), Chevron (U.S.), ExxonMobil (U.S.), Statoil (Norway), Itochu (Japan), Inpex (Japan), TPAO (Turkey), Devon Energy (U.S.), Amerada Hess (U.S.), and the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), developed the massive Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields. In 2003 the AIOC partners and several other companies financed the construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, a new pipeline—the second longest in the world—connecting the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The pipeline stretches from Baku (the capital of Azerbaijan) through Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) to Ceyhan (a port city in southern Turkey).