BP Starts Work on Caspian Oil Pipeline

BAKU (Reuters)–British Oil giant BP started work Wednesday on a $2.9 billion oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey which will bypass Russia and bring crude from the land-locked Caspian Sea to Western markets.

The Presidents of Azerbaijan–Georgia and Turkey hailed the United States-backed pipeline–long dismissed as a costly dream–and during the groundbreaking ceremony called on other post-Soviet states to join the project. The pipeline is due for completion in 2005.

Full-scale construction work will start only in 2003 but the three presidents on Wednesday buried a capsule with a joint statement calling on future generations to make the Caspian region a new European energy transportation hub.

"I was never in doubt that with support of the United States the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline project would materialize," said Azeri veteran leader Aliyev.

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