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BTC begins to fill

May 25, 2005, 15:00 CEST

Filling the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline with crude oil between Azerbaijan and Turkey’s Mediterranean coast began on 25 May. Statoil has an 8.71 per cent stake in this facility.

Ten million barrels of crude are needed to fill the 1,770-kilometre line, which runs from the Sangachal terminal on the Caspian via Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

This oil derives from the first development phase of the huge Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) field in Azerbaijan’s sector of the Caspian, where Statoil has an 8.6 per cent holding.

The presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and Kazakhstan attended a ceremony at Sangachal to celebrate the introduction of the first ACG crude to the new line.

Norway was represented by deputy petroleum and energy minister Oluf Ulseth, while Peter Mellbye, executive vice president for International Exploration & Production, headed the Statoil delegation.

“ACG will account for a substantial proportion of our international production,” Mr Mellbye observes. “And BTC makes it possible to transport crude safely and efficiently from the Caspian region to market.”

Filling the line will be a staged process, with the first oil due to take more than six months to reach Ceyhan.

Once this process has been completed, crude can travel from Sangachal to the Mediterranean in a week and a half.

Plans call for the first oil cargo to be lifted from Ceyhan towards the end of 2005.