BTC pipeline to get fire, gas-detection systems

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, June 22 -- Tefken Construction & Installation Co. has chosen Honeywell International to design, configure, install, and initiate a fire and gas-detection system at the terminal of the 1,800-km Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

The system will include Honeywell's Safety Manager and Searchline Excel open-path gas detectors, as well as closed-circuit television flame detectors. The system will cover the tank farm, metering, and jetty areas at the Ceyhan terminal.

Honeywell said its Experion Process Knowledge System also will be installed in the terminal's central control room and used to monitor all aspects of the system including alarming, event and video recording.

Honeywell said the system will be fully integrated with existing automation systems on the BTC line, and will increase plant safety by “providing operators with full insight into all gas levels and flame detection, allowing for better decision making.”

Heightened security
Security of the BTC line has been a matter of heightened concern since August 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia. At the time, Russian military forces were accused of targeting the line with warplanes and troops, even forcing its shutdown (OGJ Online, Aug. 8, 2008).

Additional security concerns have arisen in Turkey following several attacks on oil pipelines, including the BTC line itself, many of them attributed by Ankara to members of the outlawed Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (PKK).

Even PKK has claimed responsibility for an attack on the BTC line. In a statement dated Aug. 6 and posted on its web site, the People's Defense Force—the armed branch of the PKK—said it had blown up the BTC pipeline (OGJ Online, Aug. 7, 2008).

SOCAR report
Meanwhile, the Honeywell announcement coincided with reports by the State Oil Co. of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) that during January through May it doubled the transportation of oil along the BTC line to 14.4 million tonnes from 7.6 million tonnes in 2008.

According to SOCAR, 3.3 million tonnes were transported through the line in May alone, while the BTC line has carried a total of 84.8 million tonnes of oil since starting up on May 10, 2005.

Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan’s neighbors across the Caspian Sea, have helped to increase the amount of oil transported along the BTC line, according to Nuru Guliev, vice-president of SOCAR’s marketing and export department.

In April, Guliev said the daily average volume of transit of Kazakhstan and Turkmen oil through Azerbaijan for the first quarter of 2009 increased twice in comparison to the same period of 2008, up to 120,000 b/d.

Guliev said 40,000 b/d of Kazakh oil is transported through the BTC line and the remaining 80,000 b/d is transported along the Baku-to-Batumi railway line, adding that the transit of Kazakh and Turkmen oil through Azerbaijan in 2008 increased by 52% over 2007.

Tankers ordered
Earlier this year, Kazakhstan’s KazMorTransFlot (KMTF) shipping company—eyeing increased exports via the BTC line—ordered three 13,000-dwt crude tankers from Russia's Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard for delivery to the Caspian Sea port of Aktau in 2009-10.

At the time, Kazakhstan’s KazMunaiGas (KMG), which owns KMTF, said that successful implementation of the transportation project would ensure "a reliable shipment of Kazakh crude oil to Azerbaijan across the Caspian Sea onboard tankers and to international markets through BTC pipeline.”

KTMF’s order followed last November’s delivery by Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard of the tanker Zangezur to Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea Shipping Co. for transporting Kazakh oil to the Sangachalsky terminal near Baku for export via the BTC line (OGJ Online, Apr. 22, 2009).

In view of increased supplies from Azerbaijan and its neighbors in the region, Azerbaijan’s Industry and Energy Minister Natig Aliyev on June 16 said the capacity of the BTC line will be increased in 2010 to 1.6 million b/d from the current 1.2 million b/d.

Contact Eric Watkins at

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