Pipeline Study May Take Week

LONDON -- It could take a week to judge how long the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline in Turkey will remain closed after a fire at the start of August, a major pipeline shareholder said Wednesday.

The pipeline stopped carrying Azeri crude through Georgia after an explosion on Turkish territory, for which Kurdish separatist guerrillas claimed responsibility, two days before conflict over South Ossetia began.

After waiting for the pipeline to cool down following the fire, Turkish pipeline operator Botas has started assessing the damage, a BP spokesman said.

"Botas is doing that and the police are obviously there to find out the cause," the spokesman said, adding it was too early to say how long repairs to the $4 billion pipeline would take.

"That will be determined once the assessment has been done," he said.

BP owns 30.1 percent of BTC, while Azeri state oil company SOCAR holds 25 percent. Other stakeholders include U.S. companies Chevron and ConocoPhillips, Norway's StatoilHydro, Italy's Eni and France's Total.

Another BP spokesman said the Caspian oil pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan to Supsa in Georgia remained closed Wednesday as the company awaited word from Georgian authorities that it was safe to reopen.

Supplies of gas through the South Caucasus Pipeline, which runs from Baku through Georgia and into Turkey, also remained halted Wednesday afternoon, BP said.