CEYHAN, Turkey -- The presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia formally opened a pipeline yesterday designed to bypass Russia and bring Caspian oil to Europe, a route that President Bush said would bolster global energy security.
The United States staunchly supported the 1,100-mile, $3.9 billion pipeline as part of a strategy to tap sources of crude outside of the Middle East and draw the Caspian states away from Russia and closer to the West.
In Brussels, EU spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny said the pipeline ``will improve our security of supply and our diversification goals . . . Diversification of origin and routes has been identified as a priority in the European energy policy."
Oil began flowing from the Turkish port of Ceyhan last month, and some 430,000 barrels of oil are flowing each day, said Norman Rodda, construction manager for the Turkish section of the pipeline.
That's a fraction of the 85 million barrels per day that the world consumes, but with global production stretched and prices skyrocketing, specialists say all supplies matter.
The new oil is not expected to have a major impact on already sky-high oil prices, but some specialists said the crude may have helped prices from going even higher. There is already talk of building new Caspian pipelines to increase the flow.
``Together those lines are helping to create a new trade route, which is helping to meet the world's growing need for energy and reduce the growing sense of insecurity which is distorting the world's energy scene," said John Browne, chief executive of BP PLC.
Russia strongly opposed the pipeline and instead pressed for Caspian oil to continue going through its territory.