President: Azerbaijan successfully fulfills all major tasks in energy sphere (UPDATE-1)
The details were added (the first version was posted at 13:53)
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 4 / Trend S. Aliyev /
The 20th anniversary of Caspian Oil & Gas 2013 international exhibition is a great historical event. This exhibition has been attracting more and more companies for 20 years already and around 400 companies are participating in the exhibition this time, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said at the opening ceremony of Caspian Oil & Gas 2013 exhibition on June 4.
"This is a characteristic feature itself," he said. "Despite that around 20 years have passed, the exhibition has not lost its relevance. Its importance has increased even more."
"Although the major oil and gas contracts have been signed, and the foreign companies have been successfully working in Azerbaijan for many years, the significance of the exhibition is growing. Indeed, the congratulatory letters of the U.S. President and British Prime Minister traditionally sent to the participants of the exhibition prove once again the significance of this exhibition."
According to President Aliyev, Azerbaijan has passed a long way for 20 years and has achieved great success in the energy sector.
"We were at the initial stage of the work twenty years ago. The exhibition had much support and played a great role in the development of the Azerbaijani oil and gas sector," President Aliyev said.
He noted that the world didn't know much about Azerbaijan back in 1994, when the first exhibition was hosted.
"It means that the companies operating in the oil sphere knew that Azerbaijan is an oil country, but didn't have enough information about the actual potential and future plans of the country's development. We ourselves could not fully imagine the country's future and its development, despite a new oil strategy which was developed and introduced under the leadership of Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan in the mid 1990's," the President underscored.
"Azerbaijan has successfully resolved all main energy issues, ensured its independent economy and strengthened its independence which is the result of this strategy," he said.
"Azerbaijan is a wonderful area for international cooperation," he added. "We have the precise, specific plans for the coming years, whereas 20 years ago there were only programs and intentions for Azerbaijan's development."
"Of course, the signing of the "Contract of the Century" was a historic event, a turning point. It is not an accident that the contract was called the "Contract of the Century" in 1994. Right now, in the 21st century, we can say that this is a contract of two centuries, because today the contract signed within the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli (ACG) oil and gas field development project, has not lost its significance. On the contrary, as a result of this contract implementation, the new routes form the basis for the successful development and implementation of other projects today."
"The significance of the "Contract of the Century" was sufficiently stressed," he said.
"I would like to stress that Azerbaijan was the first country which discovered the Caspian Sea for joint development with foreign companies," he said. "The transport infrastructure connecting the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea has been created for the first time. This gave impetus to the successful development of other projects."
According to the President, Azerbaijan has accumulated extensive experience in the international cooperation.
"The revival of other sectors has started in Azerbaijan as a result of the implementation of the Contract of the Century," the President said.
"A wonderful investment climate has been created. Today Azerbaijan ranks first in the CIS in terms of direct foreign investments. We managed to turn the oil capital into human capital, and to direct the revenues from the oil sector to the non-oil sector development," he noted.
President Aliyev noted that none of the opinions once voiced by some analysts, that Azerbaijan will face the "Dutch disease" or the "Oil Curse", did not happen, because Azerbaijan had a thought-out policy and that policy fully ensures the interests of Azerbaijani people.
"The contract on the development of Azerbaijani gas condensate Shah Deniz field was signed during the exhibition in 1996, 17 years ago," he said.
"The gas factor was not taken seriously in Europe and in the world that period," the president said.
"At the time, the signing of the contract on Shah Deniz field didn't cause great resonance in the world. But we knew that the time will come when Azerbaijan will be known in the world not only as an oil country, but as a gas country as well. We knew that the country has very rich gas deposits. We also knew that the long-term and sustainable development of the country will be ensured as a result of development of these fields."
"Shah Deniz gas condensate field has a decisive impact on the energy security of the region as a result of Shah Deniz project implementation and successful international cooperation today," he said.
"It is impossible to imagine the energy security of the region today without Shah Deniz project, because, while speaking of energy security, we mean primarily natural gas," he said. "If the "Contract of the Century" had not been signed and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline had not been built, that is, the route had not been created, then the Shah Deniz project implementation would have been under question," the President said.
He went on to say that the implementation of Shah Deniz project was achieved due to the routes and successful trilateral cooperation between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.
"And in 2006, after the exploitation of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline began, the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipeline was built in the same corridor.
The President stressed the importance of Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline project (TANAP).
"At this exhibition, I particularly want to stress launching of the implementation of the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline project as the most important event of 2012," he said.
The President noted that Azerbaijan and Turkey signed an agreement on TANAP project less than a month after the exhibition in 2012.
The head of Azerbaijani state said that the project has great and historic significance.
"I am very glad that Azerbaijan took the main financial burden and thus there are all opportunities for implementing the project. TANAP is an integral part of the Southern Gas Corridor, and perhaps, its main part. TANAP is a project requiring big financial expenditures. Great technical capabilities must also be demonstrated. We are willing to do this together with the partners and we will do this because TANAP project is the main condition of the successful realization of the Southern Gas Corridor."
"At the same time, the beginning of TANAP project implementation means the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor," he said.
The President said that different views views on the Southern Gas Corridor are put forward whether it will be realized or not.
"This situation was observed earlier and it is the same today. There are big problems. As it is known, the negotiations on the Southern Gas Corridor have been held for a long time. But aside from the talks, no real action steps are taken. And we saw that if Azerbaijan once again doesn't take the primary responsibility on itself, then, most likely these talks would drag on for several years," Ilham Aliyev said.
"However, we cannot waste time, because the time factor plays a very important role in these issues. That's why Azerbaijan took upon itself the big responsibility and today for the realization of the TANAP project, there are no obstacles," President of Azerbaijan said.
At the same time, the President noted, the TANAP project is very important for ensuring the energy security of Europe.
"Of course, this will ensure the country's long-term development in the future," he said. "Azerbaijan has rich oil fields and they will serve us for several decades."
"However, we must look to the future, in particular, how Azerbaijan will develop after 50, 60, 70 years. The presence of large gas fields stipulates for us the need to put investments into this big project, so that the future generation could use these possibilities."
"The gas reserves will be enough for Azerbaijan for at least one hundred years, and maybe more," the President said.
"Thus, Azerbaijan will turn into a gas exporting country indispensable for Europe," he said. "Of course, this has economic and other aspects. Thus, the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor is very important for us," the President said.
"I am pleased that all parties involved in this project implementation have single opinion. I think that the country is another example of successful activity of the energy family of the world, when the producers, suppliers and consumers act as a single team," Ilham Aliyev noted.
"There is no difference in opinions. Only ensuring the balance of the interests of these three parties can lead to the success. I believe that our successful experience in this field can be examined. This experience shows once again that the energy policy must not become a battlefield. The energy policy must become a platform for cooperation. We act this way. I think that the experience, accumulated for 20 years, proves that the country can achieve great success through cooperation. Thus, Azerbaijan, transit countries and European countries insist on the realization of the Southern Gas Corridor," the noted.
The President said that Azerbaijan and the EU signed a memorandum on strategic partnership for the Southern Gas Corridor in early 2011, which is being successfully implemented.
"I want to reiterate that this is a large geo-political and geo-economic project," the president said. "This project will bring new elements to Europe's energy map," he said.
"It means that we are making up the energy map together," he said. "Of course, we are very well aware of all responsibility. We are pleased that the decisions taken in Azerbaijan, including the talks held during these exhibitions, and the current decisions, are turning into significant events in the world. In short, the country's successful energy policy have gone beyond Azerbaijan long ago. The country has successfully resolved all issues related to its energy security. There are no unfulfilled tasks."
"All of Azerbaijan's efforts are connected to the contribution it can make to the international energy cooperation," he said.
"I would like to stress that today's Azerbaijan is the most perfect example of the work undertaken in the energy sector," he said.
"One can say much about the country's successful development.
It is sufficient to look at Azerbaijani cities for everybody to see how Azerbaijani oil actually meets the national interests of Azerbaijani people. I believe that we managed to direct revenues obtained from oil for the non-oil sector development due to the though-out policy. The country was able to make great investments in the human capital. It was able to ensure full transparency in this area. The Azerbaijani State Oil Fund (SOFAZ), which has been operating for 15 years already, holds one of the leading places among the sovereign wealth funds worldwide. SOFAZ fully differs in transparency, governance and compliance with all the criteria."
The President noted that transparency created in the energy sector allows to transfer this positive practice in all other areas to ensure transparency there as well.
"We are working on these issues today. SOFAZ's successful activity is an incentive for us and is a perfect base. The transparency of revenues and expenses at the same time creates an opportunity for each obtained manat to be spent properly and directed at the development of the Azerbaijani people and the country. Of course, we have used and are using these revenues to develop the country."