Oil has begun to flow through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan, or B-T-C, pipeline. Ceremonies marking the event were held at the Sangachal terminal in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman joined with leaders from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan to mark what Mr. Bodman called "a remarkable accomplishment." The one-thousand-mile-long [one-thousand-seven-hundred-sixty kilometers] B-T-C pipeline was built by a consortium of private companies in cooperation with the governments of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Georgia at a cost of four billion dollars. It will eventually bring one million barrels of crude oil a day from the southern Caspian Sea to Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
The Caspian Sea region holds an estimated three percent of the world's proven oil reserves. The B-T-C pipeline ensures that Caspian Sea oil will reach European and other markets in a commercially viable and environmentally safe manner.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the United States "warmly welcomes" this historic energy project:
"It is a project that we have long worked on because we think it will reinforce the sovereignty and prosperity of Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as contribute to economic growth and development."
President George W. Bush sent a letter to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev congratulating Azerbaijan on what Mr. Bush called a monumental achievement. "Together with determined Turkish and Georgian leadership, and partnership with private investors," wrote President Bush, "Azerbaijan has created a world-class project" that "can help generate balanced economic growth and provide a foundation for a prosperous and just society that advances the cause of freedom."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States govermnent.