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Happy Oil Workers’ Day!

Today commemorates 17 years since the signing of the “Contract of the Century” to build the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline to deliver offshore Caspian crude from the oil fields of Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli. On this day in 1994, the agreement was signed between the government of Azerbaijan and major oil companies Amoco, BP, McDermott, Unocal, Lukoil, Statoil, Exxon, TPAO, Pennzoil, Itochu, Ramco, Delta and SOCAR (the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic). The BTC pipeline has the capacity to bring one million barrels of Azeri oil a day to Western markets.

Last year, I first came to Azerbaijan and the region to follow and photograph socioeconomic developments along the pipeline route with a Young Explorers Grant from the National Geographic Society. The work I produced was published, “At Five Years Old: BTC Pipeline Moves Oil, Culture,” and I hope to return to the region to following the route this winter. I will soon be launching on October 1 a crowdsourcing campaign to accomplish this goal on the photojournalists’ fundraising platform Emphas.Is, where I hope to raise $4,250.

Here are some unpublished images from the offshore oil platform Guneshli-4, part of an exclusive look at the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli offshore oil fields, as well as images from the Sangachal Oil Terminal south of Baku, where the BTC pipeline officially begins its 1,100 mile journey towards the southeastern coast of Turkey and the port of Ceyhan:

AZERI-CHIRAG-GUNESHLI:

The offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010; oil from these fields is pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

Oil workers on Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010; oil from these fields is pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

A worker in the dormitory building walks down a stairwell beneath a poster of President Ilham Aliyev and his father, Heydar Aliyev, the former president of Azerbaijan, on the Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010.

Oil workers on Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010; oil from these fields is pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

Workers on the Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010.

Oil workers on Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010; oil from these fields is pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

The Azeri flag flies on Guneshli 4 offshore oil platform in the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields 60 kilometers from the Azeri coast in the Caspian Sea on July 15, 2010; oil from these fields is pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.

 

SANGAÇAL OIL TERMINAL:

The Sangachal Terminal, where Azeri crude from the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields is processed and pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 13, 2010.

The Sangachal Terminal, where Azeri crude from the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields is processed and pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 13, 2010.

The starting point of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline at the Sangachal Terminal, where Azeri crude from the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields is processed and pumped into the pipeline, in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 13, 2010.

Private construction contractors the Sangachal Terminal, where Azeri crude from the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields is processed and pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 13, 2010.

The Sangachal Terminal, where Azeri crude from the offshore Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oil fields is processed and pumped into the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, in Baku, Azerbaijan on July 13, 2010.

To see the fuller, wide edit of my two-month journey along the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline route in the summer of 2010, please visit my PhotoShelter site.