Baku Supsa Oil Pipeline
|This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor and the Center for Media and Democracy.|
Baku Supsa Oil Pipeline, also known as the Western Route Export Pipeline and Western Early Oil Pipeline, is an 833-km long oil pipeline, which runs from the Sangachal Terminal near Baku to the Supsa terminal in Georgia. It transports oil from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli field and is operated by BP.
The pipeline originates at the Sangachal Terminal near Baku, Azerbaijan, and terminates at the Supsa Terminal, Georgia.
- Operator: BP
- Current capacity: 145,000 barrels per day
- Proposed capacity: 300,000 to 600,000 barrels per day
- Length: 833 kilometers
- Status: Operating
- Start Year: 1999
The preparations for the pipeline's construction started in 1994. On 8 March 1996, the President of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, and the President of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, agreed on the establishment of Baku–Supsa pipeline. The trilateral contract was signed between Azerbaijan International Operating Company, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and the Government of Georgia. In the same year, the lead contract of the project was awarded to Kværner. The pipeline was completed in 1998, and an inauguration ceremony occurred on 17 April 1999. The total costs of the construction of the pipeline and terminal were US$556 million.
Oil shipments over the pipeline were halted on 21 October 2006 after abnormalities were revealed during the inspection of the pipeline. Subsequent repair and replacement efforts included replacing and re-routing pipeline sections near Zestaponi in Georgia and the Kura River crossing in Azerbaijan. Also several defects of the Soviet-era pipeline sections were repaired. In total, the repair work cost US$53 million. Oil shipments resumed in June 2008.
After a major explosion and fire, which closed the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline on 6 August 2008, the Baku–Supsa Pipeline was used to re-route Azeri oil deliveries. On 12 August 2008, BP closed the pipeline temporarily for the safety reasons because of the South Ossetia conflict. In the summer of 2012, the pipeline was down a month for a maintenance.
In July 2015 Russian troops demarcating the de facto border of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, pushed forward the border line near the village of Orchosani, thereby taking control over a short length of the pipeline.  Analysts suggest that this was a Russian reaction to dissuade Georgia from making further moves towards joining NATO.  While conceding that the pipeline might need to be diverted in the future, SOCAR VP of investments and marketing Elshan Nasirov reportedly denied any near-term need for concern. 
Theft and Spills
The pipeline has been susceptible to numerous thefts. In 2014, the pipeline was the target of two illegal taps in Georgia, including one that resulted in more than 12,000 liters of oil spilling.
An intricate operation in 2016 involved a kilometer-long underground pipeline being used to tap into the Baku Supsa pipeline and transport oil to a makeshift terminal in Ruisi, where it was stored in large tanks and then loaded into trucks and camouflaged as vegetables and sent to a makeshift refinery in Tbilisi.
Essentially, the Baku–Supsa pipeline is a refurbished Soviet-era pipeline with several newly built sections. It has six pumping stations and two pressure reduction stations in western Georgia. The four storage tanks at the Supsa terminal have a total capacity of 160,000 cubic meters. The capacity of the pipeline is 145,000 barrels per day with proposed upgrades to between 300,000 to 600,000 barrels per day.
Articles and resources
- BP site
- "Transport routes of Azerbaijani oil (Baku-Novorossiysk, Baku-Supsa)", Azerbaijan Portal. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- "Oil pumping by Baku-Supsa pipeline to resume in May", Today.Az (2008-04-17). Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- "Baku-Supsa pipeline to be launched after repair", Today.Az (2008-06-05). Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
- "BP diverts Ceyhan crude as fire still burns", Upstream Today (2008-08-07). Retrieved on 2008-08-13.
- "BP shuts in Georgia links", Upstream Today (2008-08-12). Retrieved on 2008-08-13.
- "BP resumes oil flows via Baku-Supsa pipeline", Reuters. Retrieved on 2012-06-16.
- In Business Insider, Orchosani is named as the village near the 'lost' section of pipeline
- "EU warning over Russia 'land grab' in South Ossetia border row", BBC (2015-07-16). Retrieved on 2015-08-09.
- Jamestown analysis of Russia's reasoning
- SOCAR: Azerbaijan can deliver oil to Supsa port via alternative routes, APA, 15 Jul. 2015
- Oil pipeline threats add to pressure on Azerbaijan, S&P Global Platts, 25 Aug. 2015
- Is This The Most Intricate Oil Theft Operation Yet? Oil Price, 23 Mar. 2016.
- "Supsa Terminal and Pipeline, Georgia / Azerbaijan", Hydrocarbons Technology. Retrieved on 2008-06-08.
Related SourceWatch articles
Wikipedia also has an article on the Baku–Supsa Pipeline. This article may use content from the Wikipedia articles under the terms of the GFDL.