Azerbaijan International

Autumn 2006 (14.3)
Pages 82-90

Pipeline Completed
David Woodward Reflects on Accomplishments in Azerbaijan
by David Woodward

History of Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (1994-2006)
History of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline Project

Finally, Azerbaijan's oil is flowing to international markets via the Baku - Tbilisi - Ceyhan Pipeline. Azerbaijan International's editor Betty Blair sat down with David Woodward, President of BP Azerbaijan and AIOC to reflect on the enormous project just accomplished. Woodward has been leading BP's activities in Azerbaijan since 1998. See Blair's interview: "At the Turn of the 21st Century": AI 7.4 (Winter 1999). Search at

AI: We're delighted to have the chance to sit down with you again, now nearly seven years after our initial interview with you in 1999. Well, the pipeline was finally commissioned this past July 2006 and tankers have left the Turkish port of Ceyhan and are heading to international markets. This is the occasion that Azerbaijanis have been dreaming of for more than a decade. You've played a tremendous role in all of this, having headed the operations for BP for the past eight years. Help us understand the scope of this project and your involvement in it. What's happened since you arrived on the scene in 1998?

Woodward: Well, when talking about the project here in Azerbaijan, people tend to focus on the pipeline [Baku -Tbilisi - Ceyhan, usually simply referred to as BTC].

But the oil and gas developments that we've been involved in encompass much more than that, although without a doubt, the BTC pipeline is a very significant development in its own right.

For example, in the Azeri - Chirag - Gunashli (ACG) field in the Azerbaijan sector of the Caspian, we have undertaken the major development of the some 16 billion barrels of oil in the ground.

AI: I don't have a clue how to even begin comprehending how much oil that is? How does one imagine what 16 billion barrels of oil looks like?

Woodward: A very large tanker would carry a million barrels of oil, so we're talking about 16,000 of those giant tankers full of oil. Without a doubt, it's a huge amount.

AI: How long does it take to fill a tanker with a million barrels of oil?

Woodward: Normally, it takes a day, but that's because we fill storage tanks with oil, so it's just a matter of flowing the oil from the storage tanks into the tanker. There aren't many fields around the world that can produce a million barrels of oil a day and fill a large tanker every day.

AI: Those tankers? They're bigger than a football field, aren't they?

Woodward: Yes, they're several hundred meters long. They can hold a huge amount of oil. Eventually, oil from the ACG field will be filling up one of those tankers each day when our production reaches its maximum capacity at the end of 2008 / 2009.

In terms of what we've been doing for the last decade, if we go back to the 1990s, BP and its partners undertook what was called the Early Oil Project with the development of Chirag. It was, in effect, a pilot project.

Above: Living quarters being installed on the Central Azeri integrated deck, October 2004

It proved that we could develop ACG in accordance with international standards - technically, commercially and environmentally. That project came on - stream in 1997, and we produced it through a relatively small terminal.

We built Sangachal and began utilizing the Northern Export Route [via Russia to Novorossiysk on the Black Sea], an existing pipeline that had been refurbished.

Then in 1999, we commissioned the Western route, which was both partially new and partially refurbished.It enabled us to export oil via Supsa on the Georgian Black Sea coast.By 2000-2001, we had sufficient confidence that we could operate here in Azerbaijan in accordance with the standards that we follow elsewhere around the world and that encouraged us and our partners in AIOC to move ahead with what we call Full Field Development of ACG, which involves three major phases of development.

Above: Map showing the route of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline as well as the parallel route for the South Caucasus Pipeline from landlocked Azerbaijan. The blue line is for oil; the red, for gas. The BTC pipeline crosses three countries (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey) on its 1768 km journey from the Caspian to the Mediterranean where the oil is pumped into tankers and sent to world markets. BTC is the second longest pipeline in the world.

Construction began in September 2002. First Oil began its long journey through the pipeline on May 10, reaching its destination at Ceyhan on May 28, 2006. The first tanker sailed away to world markets on June 4, 2006. Baku expects to be pumping at least 1 million barrels per day of its own oil when its fields are fully operational

Left: East Azeri topsides installed offshore, 2006

We first focused on Central Azeri and then moved on to East and West Azeri. Now we're developing Deep - Water Gunashli. So far we have installed jackets and topsides for the three Central, West and East Azeri production, drilling and accommodation platforms. We have also installed a very major facility we call the Compression and Water Injection Platform (CWIP), which injects some of the gas that is associated with the oil back into the reservoir to maximize oil production.

The CWIP will also inject seawater around the periphery of the field to help displace the oil into the producing well. In 2008, we'll start up Deep-Water Gunashli with two more platforms and so altogether Full Field Development will comprise six major platforms. There will also be a thousand kilometers of flow lines laid on the seabed to transport the oil and gas from these platforms to the Sangachal Terminal.

AI: Pipelines on the bottom of the sea?

Yes, we have a special pipe lay barge that can lay sections of pipe that are welded together down on the seabed in order to take the oil and gas from the platforms and transport it ashore.

Above: Left: Ceremony at the Sangachal Terminal to launch the construction of the BTC pipeline. The presidents of the three countries through which the pipeline crosses participated in the inauguration: Left: Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, BP's Woodward, Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, September 18, 2002.

Right: BP's David Woodward at the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition in Baku with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban (June 2006)

AI: What size are they?

The pipes lying on the Caspian seabed are up to 30 inches in diameter. Rather sizeable. The BTC pipeline through Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey, is mostly 42 inches in diameter. It some places, it's 46 inches. Occasionally it narrows down to 36 inches, largely depending on whether the pipeline is going uphill or downhill.

Left: Launching the construction of the BTC Pipeline. Left: U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, Azerbaijan President Heydar Aliyev, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Sangachal Terminal near Baku on September 18, 2002

So we've undertaken this huge oil development offshore. As a part of this, we have pre-drilled a number of wells before we put the jackets there.

The wells are drilled from a subsea template on the seabed and then the platform is placed on the top of the pre-drilled wells, which can be tied back to the platform. This has enabled us to bring production on more rapidly, rather than starting to drill the wells only once the platform is in place.

At Sangachal, we've had to build a whole new terminal expanding the Early Oil Project terminal. Again, we did it in three phases.

We've commissioned two phases already. And the third phase will come on in time for the Deep-Water Gunashli development. Seen from the air, Sangachal Terminal is one of the largest terminals in the world, covering an area of 540 hectares.

Left: David Woodward with President Heydar Aliyev at the Ninth Annual Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku (June 2002) This was the last oil exhibition that President Aliyev attended. He had been the driving force in establishing this international exhibition and the impetus for its enormous success

That makes it more than a couple of kilometers long. Crude oil storage tanks are just one component of the terminal. We have three new tanks, which gives us a total storage capacity of about three million barrels of oil. And then there's the pipeline which starts at the Sangachal Terminal.

While it is the construction of the pipeline that has received most of the public attention, more than three quarters of the project-three quarters of the total investment-centers on activities upstream. Actually, the pipeline only comprises about 20 percent or less of the project.

So on the pipeline, there were many issues to resolve. First, a route had to be selected, then agreements with the transit countries were negotiated, and engineering and environmental studies were undertaken. Then financing had to be arranged and investors secured - that is, we had to find oil companies who were prepared to put their money into the project and transport their oil through the pipeline. Only then could the construction phase commence. That involved purchasing access to thousands of land plots and transporting 160,000 joints of pipe to location.

At our peak construction, 22,000 workers were working on the pipeline project. But we managed to arrange it in such a way that not a single family had to be relocated from their homes. The pipeline is buried along its entire length and the ground re-instated to its original condition such that owners can continue to use it for growing crops and grazing their herds.

BTC is a huge engineering endeavor in its own right. It's 1,768 kilometers long (nearly 1,100 miles); it crosses 1,500 rivers and watercourses, 13 seismic fault zones and mountains nearly 3,000 meters high. It has eight pump stations along the route.

AI: And you have pump stations not only to enable the oil to go up the mountains, but also to help brake the flow when it comes down?

Woodward: First of all, you need pump stations just to move oil along the line because there is friction inside the line. Even when the pipeline is horizontal with no incline, you need pumps to keep the oil moving. But if there is mountainous terrain, then certainly you need more horsepower and more pumps to move it uphill. When the oil is flowing downwards, sometimes, we use a slightly smaller diameter pipe or, if necessary, pressure reduction stations to slow the velocity of the flow.

Above (Left): Georgian stamp commemorating the BTC pipeline route, which runs through Georgia's capital of Tbilisi

Right: Azerbaijani stamp commemorating the BTC pipeline route, 2003

There's a difference of about 2,800 meters - close to 9,000 feet, which is nearly two miles-between the lowest point and highest point of the pipeline. We start out from about sea level and cross mountainous terrain both in Georgia and Turkey before descending to the Mediterranean. The highest point along the entire pipeline is in northern Turkey at 2,813 meters. It's really quite rugged there.

In selecting the pipeline route, we had to take into account many things. One of them was the terrain itself. We needed to select a route where it was physically possible to construct the pipeline. Another factor, of course, was the environment. We tried to avoid the most environmentally sensitive areas and not disturb them. We also took into consideration where the communities were located and sought to avoid populated areas.

Security is also an important factor, of course, which had to be taken into account. So when people ask: "How did you select the route?", there are many factors that we had to take into consideration.

For example, there were suggestions that we put the pipeline along the top of one of the mountain ridges. But if you take the mountain ridge off to install the pipe, how can you reinstate that ridge? It's not possible to re-instate a mountain ridge. So we had to look quite carefully at the terrain. We had to deal with issues such as where we could safely cross major rivers. Wherever you put the pipeline, it must remain safe no matter what the environmental conditions are.



Above (Left): Inaugurating Central Azeri production. Left: David Woodward (BP), Natig Aliyev (currently Minister of Oil), President Ilham Aliyev. February 2005

Right: Azerbaijanis have a tradition of celebrating the first success of oil in a new well by smearing some of it on their faces. It symbolizes their hope for prosperity and good fortune for the future. Left: Natig Aliyev [State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) President at the time and now Minister of Energy], President Ilham Aliyev, and BP's David Woodward. At an offshore ceremony celebrating First Oil at Central Azeri, February 18, 2005

AI: So you say, there are 13 areas that are seismically active through which the pipelines passes?

Woodward: Yes. We know that this region of the Caucasus and in Turkey is seismically very active. It's not a problem to design a pipeline to be safe in those circumstances, but you do have incorporate these factors into the design and, clearly, that's what we've done.

The pipeline is coated along its entire length to make sure it doesn't corrode. That's on the outside. Inside the pipe, we add chemicals to the oil to inhibit corrosion and then we monitor it regularly for corrosion.


Above (Left): Sections of pipe awaiting placement and welding. More than 150,000 sections of pipe that are each 11.5 meters long were used for a pipeline that extends 1768 km (nearly 1,100 miles) through three countries. In central Azerbaijan, summer 2003

Right: A pipe-bending operation on the BTC pipeline near Kars, Turkey

AI: And the pipe itself is steel?

Left: The oil projects in Azerbaijan have resulted in the annual Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition, which has been held in Baku every year since 1994. Here, President Ilham Aliyev addresses the conference guests at the opening ceremony at the 13th Annual Conference. June 2006Woodward:

Yes, and you have to keep it from rusting. Externally, we do that through a coating and something called a cathodic protection system. Internally, we add a chemical corrosion inhibitor to the oil and send devices called "pigs" down the line every few days to sweep water and debris out of the line that might cause corrosion. We also ran "intelligence pigs" down the line, shortly after construction and, will continue to do so about every three years.

This apparatus can measure the thickness of the pipe walls. So if there is any damage done through corrosion, or perhaps inadvertently by a farmer, then this can be detected by the "intelligence pig"

So oil flowing from a reservoir about 2-3 thousand meters below the seabed of the Caspian passes up through one of our wells and comes to one of our production platforms.

Then, water is separated from the oil, gas is separated, and then partly processed, and the oil travels along the seabed flow lines until it arrives at the Sangachal Terminal.There it is further processed. Any residual water is removed and the oil is heated to boil off the residual gases. From there it goes into storage tanks, then into the pipeline to begin its long journey to Ceyhan, Turkey, through these pump stations, up over the mountains, under rivers and eventually to storage tanks at the terminal at Ceyhan. Every day tankers turn up at the jetty to fill up with oil and then it will sail off to terminals somewhere in Europe or even the United States.

AI: And then it goes to refinery?

Woodward: And then it goes off to a refinery. The refinery will extract the various products from it. Crude oil is a mix of a whole range of hydrocarbons from light to heavy. When you refine oil, you are really just distilling it and taking various cuts.

Some of them will be at the heavy end-the bitumen or tar that you put on the roads. Some of it will be fuel oil that is consumed in power stations.
Some will be diesel, gasoline, or even liquefied petroleum gases - like propane - that is used in camping gear.

It's a fascinating business. I don't think we do a very good job of explaining to people what's involved in finding and producing oil and gas around the world. There's so much technology involved to develop these resources.

Left: Gathered at the Caspian Energy Centre at the Sangachal Terminal to inaugurate the completion of the Azerbaijan section of BTC pipeline on May 25, 2005. (From left): Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, Duke of York Prince Andrew of the UK, BP's Chief Executive John Browne, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, and BP's David Woodward

Some of the oil and gas fields now being found are in offshore waters 10 thousand feet deep. That's a couple of miles down just to reach the seabed. And then the field itself might be another 3, 4 or 5 miles down below that.

Just think what's involved to be able to figure out where oil and gas is located and then successfully develop it, transport it to market, refine it and then deliver it every day-day in and day out-into people's cars or homes and so on.

To me, it's a remarkable achievement which most people take for granted or they consider it an irritation because they have to pay $3 per gallon for petrol in the U.S., or $7 in the UK because of tax, which is still less than the price of mineral water.

AI: When you see how complex the entire process is, it's really amazing!

Woodward: Unfortunately, people tend to think of the oil industry as low tech and that high tech industries are in Silicon Valley [computer technology] or the pharmaceutical industry. But you should see some of the technology that we use. We probably use some of the biggest computers and most advanced computer processing of any industry.

AI: For what kinds of things?

Woodward: Well, for example, seismic data processing. Vast amounts of data, essentially sound echoes, from subsurface formations are processed to study the formations under the ground and identify where oil and gas is most likely to be found. Nowadays, we can use seismic to determine how oil, water and gas are moving in a producing reservoir and, hence, optimize the development of the reservoir and maximize oil recovery.

The oil industry is often perceived as a dirty business that pollutes and damages the environment. But again, if you consider how much oil we develop and move around the world, very, very little of it actually gets spilled into the environment. Every now and then, there is an accident but we're normally pretty good at dealing with it. Sometimes it's not the oil companies, but shipping companies. Increasingly, oil companies like BP are starting to take more control of the transportation of their products around the world because we get a bad name if there is a spill somewhere.

AI: Why did it take so long to build the pipeline in Azerbaijan?

Woodward: Back in 1998, there were discussions about the pipeline being up and running in 2001. I came here at the end of 1998 and at that time, the oil price was $10 a barrel [now it's $70 per barrel]. We didn't even have a development plan for Azeri - Chirag - Gunashli (ACG) Full Field Development. We had not selected the pipeline route. Some people were saying Baku - Ceyhan [via Turkey] was the best choice. Others insisted on Baku - Supsa [via Georgia, through the Black Sea down through the Turkish Straits]. And some promoted Baku - Novorossiysk [via Russia]

It was probably about the year 2000 before we eventually got agreement from a sufficient number of partners to be able to pursue the Baku - Ceyhan route. And that was conditional on our being able to negotiate reasonable transit agreements with each of the countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It was also subject to our being able to engineer the pipeline at an acceptable cost and to find companies willing to commit sufficient oil to the pipeline and so on. You don't build a pipeline of this scale on a speculative basis in hopes that somebody might use it. You need to have sufficient companies willing to commit to transport agreed quantities of oil via the pipeline.

AI: So, actually, the process of persuading people about all of these issues can take more time than the actual construction of the infrastructure to develop oil.

Left: A team of ecologists examining the BTC pipeline in Southern Turkey. The pipeline has been buried the entire length of the route and the ground cover has been restored to its previous condition before the constructionWoodward:

Almost. The engineering of the pipeline and, particularly, its construction is relatively straightforward. That's not to minimize or diminish the many challenges that were tackled by the construction teams and engineers. But really the difficult part was in getting a sufficient number of participants to agree that they were willing to fund it. They had to be convinced that they would get an adequate return on their investment.

A key part of this is concluding agreements with the transit countries - Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. You must have confidence that none of the transit countries will suddenly change the terms once you've made your investment.
Almost two years were spent negotiating the various agreements with the transit countries before we knew what the basis would be for building this pipeline if it was going to be built. This included the transit fees - in other words, the amount that these countries would charge for each barrel of oil moving through the pipeline in their country. What tax terms would apply? What assurance would we have that once the pipeline was actually built, that the terms would not get changed? Who would be responsible for the security of the pipeline? And so on.

Once we got all of the agreements, we were able to focus more on selecting the actual route of the pipeline, the engineering of it and the cost estimates. In parallel with those decisions, the partners agreed that they would seek external financing. So we went to the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and then to a group of commercial banks to borrow about 2.5 billion dollars towards the cost of the pipeline.

These banks had requirements regarding the social and environmental impact of the pipeline. Tens of thousands of pages of documents had to be submitted to the lenders to satisfy them that everything was going to be done to the standards that they required. After that, they would release the money.

So the construction of the pipeline did not get started until late 2002. It has then taken us about three and a half years to actually construct, commission and get it into operation.

AI: Which is really quite fast. Yes?

Woodward: Yes, it is really quite fast when you consider the scale of the pipeline and all of the technical challenges. At the peak of the pipeline construction, we had 22,000 workers working on it. Think about how many camps you must have along the pipeline route to accommodate all these thousands of workers. How many meals you have to serve daily. This is a huge operation in its own right. And those people have to be driven out to the work site everyday because each camp would have several hundred or even a thousand workers but they operated over a line length of 100 kilometers or more. We had to have buses to transport them out to the work site, get lunches and drinks to them so that they could function throughout the day, and then transfer them back to the camps at night so they could get a night's rest.

One tends to overlook such things. The publicity around the pipeline has, perhaps, had more emphasis on the political dimensions, the environmental aspects and security. One tends to forget the enormous logistics, the engineering, and the pure construction activities - like river crossings. Consider how much effort is involved in boring a hole the distance of a kilometer underneath a river.

For example, the width of the Kur River and its flood plain at the location of the horizontal directional drill crossing (HDD) in eastern Georgia is approximately one kilometer. The river itself is about 100 meters wide however the HDD needed to traverse under the entire flood plain.

AI: And some of those rivers are deep and quite swift.

Woodward: Oh yes, which is why you have to start well back from either side of the river banks and bore down at an angle to a depth of perhaps 10-15 meters below the deepest part of the river.

AI: How did you finally decide on the Baku-Ceyhan route?

Left: Queen Elizabeth II congratulating David Woodward after bestowing upon him the Order of St. Michael and St. George for the tremendous role he has played in the development of the oil industry in Azerbaijan for the past eight yearsWoodward:

Ultimately, as far as we were concerned, it was very clear that the country that had the resources - Azerbaijan - desired to export its oil to international markets by a pipeline that went through Turkey and that gave direct access to the Mediterranean and the world market. Although we and our partners originally looked at several alternatives; ultimately, the deciding factor was our desire to align ourselves with the host country.

Although there was an argument that there were routes that would have cost less than Baku-Ceyhan; for example, Supsa or Novorossiysk, there would have required the necessity to go through the Turkish Straits, which are environmentally sensitive and becoming increasingly congested with tanker traffic. Taking into account the need to bypass the Turkish Straits, BTC is a commercially competitive solution.

AI: What can you tell us about the security of this operation?

Woodward: Security, clearly, was one of the important criteria for deciding the route of the pipeline, and its design. We've had a lot of advice from the authorities here in Azerbaijan and from Western governments. As the pipeline is buried, it's not that easy to find. The pump stations and facilities that are above ground have protection along with access control, security systems and cameras.

We have pipeline patrols along the entire route. Generally, these patrols riding horseback that are hired from local communities and who personally know the farmers and shepherds and people from these areas. So, if someone is inadvertently attempting to carry out activities too close to the pipeline, the patrols will remind them to be careful and, of course, they can keep an eye out for others who might not be as well - intentioned.

We've developed and will continue to maintain good relations with communities along the pipeline route. We've spent quite a lot of money on schools, clinics, minor infrastructure. We've provided micro - financing to assist the development of local enterprises. We're trying to help these communities build the capacity to help themselves.

AI: How many communities are there that are located along the pipeline route?

Woodward: There are several hundred that are in the "corridor" on either side of the pipeline. We have community liaison officers who are in contact with the communities on a regular basis in case they have any issues or concerns about our activities, so the community can raise them and have them dealt with. It's very important for us to maintain good relationships with the people in the proximity of the facilities.

Left: David Woodward with his family at Buckingham Palace in London after being invested with the Order of St. Michael and St. George by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Left to right: Wife Quinta, David Woodward, son Mark and daughter Selina. March 29, 2006

Beyond that, the government in each of the countries has the responsibility for ensuring the security of the pipeline and they have recruited and trained forces to undertake this task. So there are multiple layers of security in place.

To change the subject, let's talk about you. Isn't it quite unusual in BP for one manager to be in the same position for eight years? Isn't that quite rare?

Yes, it is unusual. And it's the longest period of time that I've had the same assignment in my career. These large-scale projects take quite a long time. As people build familiarity and relationships, there's value in being able to maintain that continuity.

AI: This is such a huge project. How do you find yourself different after eight years?

It's worked out for me and my family that we've been happy to stay here and see these projects through to completion. I've derived an enormous amount of satisfaction in being involved in something from the early conceptual phases all the way through to operation.

As you accumulate experience, I think you're less likely to view something as a real crisis. I've seen a fair number of crises over the years and I've had my share of worries and concerns. Perhaps, I'm less likely now to panic when problems occur, as inevitably they will. I'm confident that we can work our way through all the difficulties somehow.

AI: Well, what's next?

Woodward: For BP and the project, this is just the beginning. We've built these facilities in order to produce the oil and to export it for decades to come.

And, of course, there's gas, we've got the Shah Deniz Stage 1 project underway. Within the next few months, we'll start up gas production, which will flow along a pipeline parallel to the BTC pipeline. It's a separate pipeline but it follows the same route. Shah Deniz will produce gas, not in liquid form, but like the air around us. We'll compress it a bit so we can get more of it down the pipeline.

There will be further stages of development of both ACG and Shah Deniz as we build the production up to the maximum capacity of the pipeline. Then there's the potential to expand the pipeline. An inter-governmental agreement between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan was signed in June 2006 and at some stage in the future, Kazakh oil will almost certainly flow through BTC.

AI: There's no pipeline under the Caspian right now, so does that mean oil will cross by tanker?

Woodward: Initially, transport will take place by tanker and then, depending upon the volumes of oil, they may decide to lay a pipeline on the bottom of the Caspian. More oil coming from Kazakhstan may well require the expansion of BTC pipeline. There are various ways by which we can increase its throughput; for example, some additional pump stations and pumps might be added to the line. Finally, oil is heading to market but that's really just the start of things.

AI: And yourself? What are your plans? Are you staying on?

I expect to move on towards the end of this year. It will be eight years that I've been here in Azerbaijan. So, it's time for something different and for somebody else to come to lead the business here. I'll be retiring from BP and moving on to a new phase in my life.

[Note: Bill Schrader has since been named as the new President for BP Azerbaijan who will head the AIOC project starting in November. See Faces / Places in this issue.]

We've had a marvelous time here but it's been hugely demanding on my family and one tends to neglect so many other aspects of life. There are other things in life that I'd like to devote more time to.

One gets a lot of satisfaction in being associated with something that is as big and challenging as our projects in Azerbaijan, but I think the greatest satisfaction has come from the way in which we have approached each task. We have devoted enormous care to the environment, to the social impact that the pipeline has upon communities, to the way that we have looked after the safety of our workers, maintaining high ethical standards and by being very transparent about everything that we've done. We've gone beyond what you might expect a company to do when undertaking projects of this scale. It's the process - the way we've gone about it - and the concern we've tried to show for people that means so much to me.

Of course, there has been some criticism from NGOs [non-governmental organizations], and the media, But I've always felt that we could stand up to such scrutiny and challenge because we were confident that we were doing our job to the highest standard. If valid concerns were raised then we endeavored to engage with those concerned to see if we could address their issues and improve the project still further. I've always felt an enormous genuine pride in what we have accomplished here in Azerbaijan.


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