BAKU, Azerbaijan, Jan. 9
President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received the Chairman of the Board of “ACWA Power” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Abunayyan, and the Chief Executive Officer of “Masdar” of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi.
Welcoming the guests, President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Welcome to Azerbaijan! I am very glad to see you. I would like to extend my congratulations to you on a very important Executive Agreement signed today with “ACWA Power” and “Masdar”, the leading companies in the energy sector, especially in the alternative energy sector. This agreement will open up a new page in the development of energy projects in Azerbaijan, because renewable energy is one of the energy sector priorities for us today. Azerbaijan is already securing its own electricity reserves and exporting it. However, our goal is to attract investors to the renewable energy sector, and the significance of the Executive Agreement is that wind and solar power plants will be built at the investors’ expense. You are thus showing interest in working in Azerbaijan. We view this as a sign of confidence in our country and its future, because very large investments are involved. I was informed that after the signing of the Executive Agreement today there will still be some time to prepare other agreements, and we look forward to taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony for solar and wind power plants this year. These are very important projects for us.
As I have already mentioned, Azerbaijan has made large investments in the electricity sector and power lines connect us with our neighbors. We have invested heavily in electricity generation. We now have 1,000 megawatts of additional electricity capacity and we export it. We have export markets. I also want to inform you that our investments in this sector are acknowledged by leading international institutions, in particular the Davos World Economic Forum. In terms of accessibility of electricity, it has awarded Azerbaijan second place in the world. Our entire country is provided with power lines and, as I have already noted, Azerbaijan has become an exporter. Also recently, just over a month ago, together with our partners, we completed the important TANAP gas pipeline project, which has already reached the borders of the European Union. The more energy we get from the sun and wind, the more natural gas we will save for our own needs and exports. Therefore, I attach great importance to today's ceremony. It testifies to the fact that we are on the right track. It also shows that Azerbaijan has created excellent conditions for investors.
Your investments will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. The total volume of electricity will be 440 megawatts. It will be a truly major transformation in Azerbaijan in terms of renewable energy. I am also glad that your companies have been selected as partners in these projects. I believe that this was not a surprise. I was informed that “ACWA Power” has a total of more than 30,000 megawatts of electricity. It also produces 8,000 megawatts of electricity in the field of renewable energy. “Masdar” produces 4,000 megawatts of renewable energy. So you are quite experienced and leading companies in this field. Therefore, I am very glad to see you. I am sure that our cooperation will be long-term, all projects and technical issues will be resolved in a timely manner. We will start these two large projects, and they will allow us the opportunity to attract other investments, other investors to Azerbaijan because our country has a lot of wind and sun. Sometimes the wind creates some inconvenience, but at the same time cleans the air. And now wind and sun will serve our energy production, thanks to which a large amount of natural gas will be saved for domestic use and exports. Welcome, and thank you again for the decision to invest in Azerbaijan.
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The Chairman of the Board of “ACWA Power” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Abunayyan, said:
- Mr. President, let me express my gratitude to you and convey the greetings of our government, the King and the Crown Prince. The excellent relations you have already established with the government of Saudi Arabia and our leaders can be cited as an example. Thanks to the trust you have placed in the company from Saudi Arabia, we will now be able to implement your plans for renewable energy in Azerbaijan. As for investments, economic and social benefits, we will be able to meet your expectations in terms of attracting renewable energy to our projects. We will direct Azerbaijan’s resources for use in other energy generation. We will improve the fuel balance to achieve the most optimized economic solution for Azerbaijan. I am very glad and grateful to you for choosing us, as this reflects your confidence in relations with Saudi Arabia. The detailed program you used made a very positive impression on us. Indeed, the technical, commercial and contractual process was based on the best experience. We have extensive experience in working with other countries and launching renewable energy programs. However, Azerbaijan is unique because you have already embarked on this program. You have very professionally and transparently attracted the best companies to compete. You also applied very rare competition values.
Mr. President, these investments will be consistent with our high-level political relations. In addition, as our Crown Prince always notes, we also want to see strong economic ties underpinning our political relations.
Mr. President, this is the beginning of Saudi Arabia's investment in various fields.
Mr. President, as you know, our relations are at a high level. As for the social sphere, over 100,000 tourists from Saudi Arabia visited Azerbaijan last year. Every year, the number of tourists increases by 20-30 percent. This suggests that our relations today cover not only the political and social, but also the economic sphere. The positive point is that this is already happening in Azerbaijan.
Mr. President, we are jointly implementing these projects to realize your views. As for economic and social values, we will conduct trainings for local citizens and transfer knowledge and know-how. Our shareholders, the board of “ACWA Power” decided to use Azerbaijan as a platform for the region. You know that this is being done not only for Azerbaijan. Therefore, our office will start full-fledged activities here in April. We will conduct trainings to develop human capital because under your leadership a huge human capital has emerged in this country, and we will try to use it internationally. Yes, this will be done for a project we strive to develop in Azerbaijan. But at the same time, we will use human capital to enhance our competitive edge on a global scale. We remain committed to our obligations, and I convey to you the greetings of our government. At the same time, as part of this project, we commit ourselves in terms of health and safety, time, quality and reliability. The project cost is $200 million. At the same time, we are committed to long-term cooperation related to both renewable energy and highly efficient production of gas and fuel. We are very happy to be here. Yes, we are Saudis, but we work and will work as a local company because we are proud to be part of your system, part of the development of Azerbaijan and the region as a whole. It is a great honor for me to meet you. I am happy that you provided us with the opportunity for this meeting. I am very pleased. I know that you have a busy schedule. We are grateful for the opportunity. Thank you, Mr. President.
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President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Thank you for the kind words about our country. Please convey my personal greetings and best wishes to His Majesty King Salman and the Crown Prince. As you noted, the relations between Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan are at a very high level, we are friendly, partner and fraternal countries. I would describe these relations as fraternal. We support each other in international institutions. We interact in the UN, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. As you know, Azerbaijan has recently taken over chairmanship in the Non-Aligned Movement. We will preside over this organization for three years. With your support and with the support of friends from the United Arab Emirates, we, as the country chairing the organization, want to be very active, support members of the organization and their interests, and create a stronger unity within it. Of course, as we always note during discussions with my friends, the leaders of your country, the ties between Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan require economic support. Therefore, we have always talked about ways of bringing economic cooperation to the level of political. This is not easy, but we have taken a very important step today. It paves the way for many other investors. They will see that “ACWA Power” and “Masdar” are present here, invest hundreds of millions of dollars and have confidence in our future. Therefore, many other investors will follow you. In addition, we already saw interest in this area in the process of selecting partners. This interest is generated by many factors. First, political stability, predictability, economic development, as well as a diversified infrastructure and export opportunities in Azerbaijan. As I have already noted, we export not only oil and gas, but also electricity today. There is great potential, especially in the renewable energy sector. So this project is very important for us. I want to thank you for making this decision. As you know, such important decisions are made with the support of the government. We know that the Saudi government supports this decision, and we are very grateful for that. This is another sign of close friendships between us.
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The Chief Executive Officer of “Masdar” of the United Arab Emirates, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, said:
- Mr. President, please allow me to thank you on behalf of my Government, the United Arab Emirates and shareholders of “Masdar” for this opportunity. We have committed ourselves to participate in your plans aimed at decarbonization and to support them. The world is reducing its dependence on traditional methods of energy production and is heading towards decarbonization, towards a cleaner future. “Masdar” is committed to sustainable urban communities, renewable energy and the technology of the future.
Mr. President, it is a great honor for us to participate in this process and to have been selected by you. We know that if it hadn’t been for your support, clear instructions and your approach, we would not be here today.
Thank you very much again, Mr. President. You can trust us on achieving a result the country and the world will be proud of, Inshallah.
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President Ilham Aliyev said:
- Thank you very much. We are witnessing a new stage in the development of energy projects in Azerbaijan today. I am very glad to start 2020 with such an important event. It will have a good future and bring our countries closer together. You have mentioned tourists from Saudi Arabia. I believe that the number of tourists from the United Arab Emirates is the same. The number of Azerbaijanis visiting your countries is also growing. This is due not only to what we offer tourists. The reason is that people feel comfortable. Azerbaijanis visiting your countries and your citizens visiting Azerbaijan feel absolutely at home. The signing ceremony of this Executive Agreement will also strengthen the ties between our countries.