Ilham Aliyev: Shah Deniz 2 important for entire region, Europe (UPDATE 7)

Headline changed, details added (first version posted on 13:33)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept.1

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Shah Deniz Stage 2 project is of great importance for Azerbaijan, said the country's President Ilham Aliyev Sept.1.

He made the remarks addressing the Shah Deniz Stage 2 Production and Risers Platform Jacket Sail Away Event.

"Dear friends, today is a very remarkable day for our country. We are sailing away the Shah Deniz 2 platform jacket," said the president.

"I congratulate you, the whole Azerbaijani people with this remarkable event. This is a historical event," said President Aliyev. "The contract on Shah Deniz was signed 20 years ago and throughout these years, it has been implemented successfully. All tasks are being fulfilled."

President Aliyev noted that the platform jacket, which was sailed away today, shows that Azerbaijan is a country able to carry out great work.

"It is gratifying that the jacket and topside of the platform are fully constructed in Azerbaijan," said the president. "The vast majority of those working on the construction of these grandiose facilities are Azerbaijani citizens. This is the result of the 'Contract of the Century'."

One of the conditions of the "Contract of the Century" signed in 1994 was that gradually, local specialists and workers should prevail, said the president.

"Today, over 80 percent of the workers are Azerbaijani citizens, and this means new jobs," said Ilham Aliyev.

He pointed out that over 20,000 Azerbaijani citizens participate in the implementation of the Shah Deniz project, get good salary and gain experience.

Those citizens will work in other projects in the future, added the president.

President Aliyev noted that Shah Deniz 2 project is of great importance not only for Azerbaijan, but for the whole region and Europe.

Ilham Aliyev pointed out that the contract on Shah Deniz project was signed over 20 years ago and currently, the great results of this can be seen.

"Azerbaijani gas is being exported to the countries of the region for many years," he said. "Azerbaijan has fully ensured its energy security and plays its role in ensuring the energy security of other countries. This role will gradually increase."

"Shah Deniz and Southern Gas Corridor projects are among the greatest energy projects in the world," said President Aliyev. "The construction of the Southern Gas Corridor continues successfully. All this work is carried out in a coordinated manner."

"I am confident that the work carried out on schedule will be completed in 2018-2020 and thereby, even greater volumes of Azerbaijani gas will be transported to the neighbouring countries and European countries," said the president.

The president said that the Southern Gas Corridor brings together seven countries.

"Azerbaijan continues its leadership activity in this sphere. Baku hosted two meetings of the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Board in 2016," he said.

"We have created a new format of the international cooperation. Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy are participants of this project. Aside from that, three Balkan countries - Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia will join this project at the next stage," said President Aliyev. "Thereby, new opportunities are opening up for the export of Azerbaijani gas to other countries as well in the future. This is created by us jointly with partners. This is created by Azerbaijani people."

The president praised the role of SOCAR and BP in the work done for the implementation of this project.

"There is a great history of SOCAR-BP cooperation. This cooperation has been continuing for over 20 years and this is a successful collaboration. The work done and to be done will ensure the activity of SOCAR and BP as close partners at least for the next 20 years more," said Ilham Aliyev.

The work to be done in Azerbaijan will bring even greater benefits both to foreign partners, foreign companies and SOCAR and Azerbaijani people," he added.

Ilham Aliyev pointed out that today, it is impossible to imagine where Azerbaijan would be, if it wasn't for the "Contract of the Century", signed in 1994 at the initiative of Heydar Aliyev.

"Contract of the Century' is the main source of the landscaping work, sustainable economy, and large foreign exchange reserves," said the president. "Azerbaijan came under certain pressure during that hard and difficult period. The decisiveness, courage farsightedness of Heydar Aliyev and his connection with the people ensured the signing of the 'Contract of the Century'."

"I am proud that during this period, I participated is the talks held before the signing of the contract in 1994. After this, working at SOCAR, I was directly involved in these issues," said Ilham Aliyev.

"Currently, as president, I keep all the work under control and take necessary steps for the future development of Azerbaijan's energy policy," he added.

President Aliyev noted that currently, Azerbaijan is known on the world map as a reliable partner.

"We fulfill all the obligations and have created good opportunities for foreign investors. Their investments are protected by the law. Otherwise, no one would invest billions, tens of billions of dollars in Azerbaijan," he said.

"Azerbaijan is a very attractive country for making investments. I am glad that currently, local and foreign investments are made not only in the oil and gas sector, but also in other fields," said Ilham Aliyev. "The foundation of all this work was laid on Sept.20, 1994."

"The agreement signed on the Shah Deniz project in 1996 became another successful step, despite the fact that during that time, there were no talks about the energy security in the world and especially, in Europe and gas projects didn't have such a great importance," said the president.

"It was believed that gas projects do not bring such great revenues. There were certain doubts. But we were confident that Azerbaijan will have its say in the gas sector as well," he added.

“Currently, Azerbaijan is among the major gas countries. The production and transportation will increase,” he said, adding that Azerbaijan can play a transit role in the future, just as currently, it plays this role in the transportation of oil and oil products.

“Thereby, the power, the significance of our country will increase. Azerbaijani people will live even better,” said President Aliyev.

“The goal of all this work done is to ensure even better life for Azerbaijani citizens, even more strengthen the country’s economic independence and increase its role and significance in the world,” he said. “We see all this. Therefore, today’s event is very symbolic. This is the bright example of the carried out work.”

“Azerbaijani citizens carry out this great, grandiose work jointly with foreign partners and foreign investors,” said Ilham Aliyev.

The president pointed out that each patriotic citizen of Azerbaijan is proud of that.

“I take this opportunity to thank all those who participated in this work - Azerbaijani workers, specialists, foreign partners, BP company and other partners,” he said. “This is our common cause and each of the parties – foreign companies, Azerbaijani state, Azerbaijani companies, Azerbaijani citizens get their benefits. I congratulate you with this remarkable event.”

President Aliyev said that the topside of the platform will be commissioned in 2017.

“God willing, we will meet with you next year at the next ceremony. Congratulations again,” said the president.

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