Norwegian oil major Statoil has begun deliveries of oil sourced from the new Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli field in the Caspian region via super tankers out of the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Statoil is marketing the first oil to be exported by very large crude carrier (VLCC) from the port of Ceyhan. Oil is sourced from the Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in the Azeri region of the Caspian and transported to the Turkish port via the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Statoil owns minor shares in both the Caspian oil field and the BTC pipeline.

A VLCC is able to load up to two million barrels of oil. Loading of such large tankers gives us significant economies of scale, especially when we transport over long distances, said Mark Tattersdill, trader at Statoil’s sales office for crude oil in London.

One such VLCC, Astro Challenge, is now on its way round Africa en route to the Asian market. Mr Tattersdill emphasizes that consignments of this size make it easier to satisfy the customer’s wishes with regard to speedy delivery, which also provides market gains.

During February, the transported volume through BTC had reached 600,000 barrels per day. By the end of 2008, this will have increased to one million barrels.