Local dignitaries have formally opened the new oil pipeline from the Caspian to Mediterranean seas in the Turkish city of Ceyhan.

The 1,768km line runs through Azerbaijan and Georgia to reach the Turkish end, and is intended to carry 1 million barrels of crude oil per day.

However by the end of the year a parallel route carrying natural gas from the Caspian towards Europe will be in operation. Both pipelines are part and parcel of Europe’s desire to diversify its supply routes away from Russia, and the BTC project, while fiercely criticized by environmentalists, has been strongly backed by the US.

The EU welcomed the official inauguration of the pipeline. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will improve our security of supply and our diversification goals since it will bring oil from a different part of the world – the Caspian region – through a different route, said the EU’s Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.