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New Oil Source for the West

Crude oil for western markets began flowing in the long anticipated Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline (BTC), which connects the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The $4 billion pipeline, which is only 42 inches wide, is supposed to alter the global markets forever.

The pipeline moves through some of the most politically unstable countries in the world. It begins in Baku, Azerbaijan, moves through Georgia and to a Turkish Mediterranean coastal port, which is next to the U.S. airbase at Incirlik. It is anticipated that it will transport one-million barrels per day, or 1 percent of world production.

The project is supposed to provide the west with 220 billion barrels of crude oil or 50 years of energy supplies, which will ease the west's reliance on OPEC. The BTC project has heighten the continuing problems between the U.S. and Russia, triggered political unrest in the countries it passes through, and sparked concerns about extensive environmental damage. Furthermore, the pipeline is expected to ease the tanker congestion in the Bosphorus Straits.